There is nothing like a blazing start to the second half to send you to your first-ever state title match.
Herscher put in two goals just moments apart, as Tigers came back to stun Genoa-Kingston 4-1 on Friday night at the Corn Crib in Normal.
Senior forward Mitchell Schwarzkopf put in his second goal of the night off the kickoff just seven seconds into the second half and the Tigers never looked back.
"We knew the keeper had been kinda aggressive the whole game," said Schwarzkopf, who took the kickoff from Colin Lund, then sent it home. "Somebody told me that he took three steps toward the ball. So I just had to put it up toward the goal, and luckily it went upper-90."
Herscher (23-4-1), which had only gone as far as the Elite Eight in 2006 and 2010, didn't take long to put in another one. About 35 seconds later, junior Brody Ryan headed in a ball that Genoa-Kingston (17-7-1) couldn't clear away.
Ryan also slipped in a goal 10 minutes later to seal a date for Saturday's state title match at 5:00 p.m.
"We tried for this since June," Ryan said.
For the third-straight match, Herscher trailed. But the Tigers, who won a sectional title with a goal with .7 seconds left, responded again.
On his first goal, Schwarzkopf knocked in a score off a Travis Ostrowski pass with 29 minutes left in the first half. A Genoa-Kingston defender tried to clear it away, but it went off the crossbar and in.
Herscher settled in from there.
“We don’t get down on ourselves,” said Schwarzkopf, now with 31 goals. “I say we’re relentless. We just keep coming at them.”
Herscher also trailed Williamsville early in super-sectional play Tuesday but came back to win 2-1.
“Our kids know it’s an 80-minute game, and anything can happen in those 80 minutes,” Herscher coach Alan High said.
Genoa-Kingston went up 1-0 in the 10th minute when sophomore Juan Lechuga found the net after Herscher had trouble getting the ball out of danger. He cleanly placed his 20-yard shot into the left side.
The Cogs were the aggressor early but couldn’t recover from Herscher’s hot start to the second half.
"This meant a lot to all of us," said Lechuga. "It wasn't just making it to state; it was to get farther."