Playing before a hometown crowd which is quickly learning to love soccer, Watertown advanced to the Region 4-A tournament for the first time with a 1-0 overtime win over RePublic.
Jared Tomson scored off a Cole Knapp assist during the opening moments of the first 10-minute overtime period. After a second 10-minute OT, and 100 minutes total, the Purple Tigers, with Nathan Fish totaling 26 saves, advanced to Thursday’s region final at WHS against Merrol Hyde, which ousted Smith County 8-0 Tuesday, in a rematch of last year’s region opener won by the Hawks.
Soccer did not exist in Watertown until the new campus opened earlier this decade. Natives who played American football for legendary coaches Brownie and Bill Robinson, not to mention the current students and parents, were wildly cheering on their Purple Tigers, even if they didn’t understand all the nuances of what is known internationally as “the beautiful game”.
“It says a lot if you look at our side of the stands, it’s full of people cheering, leading us on,” first-year Watertown coach Mark Parisher said after his Purple Tigers entered unchartered territory with a 14-1-2 record. “I think that was a big part of this victory.”
Soccer, like ice hockey, is full of excitement and tension even when there’s no scoring, especially with so much at stake in an elimination game.
“One-zero, that’s a defensive battle through and through time and time,” Parisher said. “And our boys came up big when it was time.”Thursday’s winner will play host to a sectional Saturday while the loser goes on the road.