By Jeremy McDonald
Emotions were high as they walked out to the field to cheers of the home crowd.
Win, go to State. Lose. Season and their dreams are over.
In front of them, the always well-traveled Mac-Hi.
History is there between the two with the Pionners knocking out the Eagles before Stayton got revenge in the Semi-final Game in 2010 en route to their State Title that year over Hidden Valley. Some would say thid was the Championship Game and they played like it too.
The physicality, the aggression, the passion was on overdrive Tuesday evening. Both team’s had opportunities as the senses were attacked from all over the place entering half-time tied at zero.
Mac struck first about halfway through the second half for a 1-nil lead and putting more pressure on Stayton and their offense through a suffocating defense.
No luck as the Pioneers recieved a red card with 14:04 left down 1 with Stayton fighting to tie it with 7:42 left in the game. Jose ‘Chivo’ Gomez’ free kick barely missed, so did Alex Cramer’s shot and Hernandez’.
Hernandez then tied it with 2:19 left at one to force overtime.
Like a emotional roller-coaster, that goal seemingly woke up Stayton and even more David Ramirez’ goal put them up one and for good in their only OT game of the season. Battling through the mental test of the second OT period.
“It’s crazy, especially being down so late and stuff, it’s scary and then there’s nothing to describe the relief when Kevin scored, it was so good,” said Cramer on the last 20-plus minutes of the game.
“I don’t know, it was a tough game, we played our hearts out,” adds David Ramirez as the game went into overtime. “We played our hearts out, at the end of the day, it’s about working hard to the last minute. That’s how we executed.”
The game-winner was certainly a dream come true for the sophomore Ramirez as that was the deciding factor in sending his squad to the Final go-around.
“It was a dream,” said Ramirez on the game-winning goal. “I haven’t scored in a while to get that feeling of scoring, (and it) being a big goal in a big game, it’s great.”
For the seniors like Chivo, Cramer and Cole Atiyeh the emotions of going to state one more time, one more redemption game for that trophy Saturday against Newport.
“It’s great because we’ve get to redeem ourselves and hopefully take the Title this year,” said Atiyeh. “It’s not all about skill at this point, it’s all about who works the hardest and we just have to play as hard as we possibly can.”
Cramer knows too if they can come out like they did on October 3, then their set for their redemption in the State Title game.
“By coming out and playing with high energy,” adds Cramer. “I feel like that the first time we played Newport, that 7-2 or whatever that was our peak, our highest level we’ve come out. If we come out and play like that again, there’s no reason why we can’t win it.”
As they walk into the team room for the last time this season for a post-game meeting, the excitement is there for Saturday against the Cubs.
“This is all we worked for all season, it’s all about the little details that count and hopefully we excute,” said Ramirez.
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