Beauty and style points do not get a team anywhere in the Section III boys soccer playoffs. Hard work, and a bit of fortune, plays a much larger role.
Jamesville-DeWitt knows this, and it applied those lessons in last Friday's exciting Class A quarterfinal, fighting past Fowler 2-1 in overtime on Tom Lukow's goal just 28 seconds before the extra period ended.
With that win, the Red Rams advance to meet OHSL Freedom division rival Chittenango in the Class A semifinal round, the winner to get New Hartford or Watertown in the championship game. J-D split its two regular-season games against the Bears.
J-D began the playoffs as the no. 2 seed, the byproduct of a 12-4 record that included a win over Fowler back on Sept. 23. More than a month later, the Falcons arrived as the no. 7 seed, fresh off a 3-0 first-round win over Homer, and would prove difficult to beat a second time.
Not at first, though, as the Rams scored seven minutes into the game off an error from Fowler goalie Elijah Kumeh. Not able to clear the ball out, Kumeh saw the ball go right to J-D's Noel Williams, who lobbed a shot over Kumeh's head into the net.
Fueled by that goal, J-D controlled the flow of play the rest of the half, yet could not add to that 1-0 lead, leaving the door open for Fowler to answer if it could solve the Rams' defensive riddle.
It took a great Falcon run midway through the second half to tie the match at 1-1. Lossing Jellue, Fowler's top player, broke loose down the sideline, and Heri Muke went with him. At just the right moment, Jellue passed to the middle, and Muke hit a touch shot past Zack Tanner for the equalizer.
As time passed, the tension only grew, and that lingered into sudden-death overtime, where one big play, or one mistake, would end someone's season. As such, the teams grew cautious in the OT periods, fighting their own fatigue and a rain that made every move a slippery one.
But just before the extra period ended, Lukow broke free and hit a hard shot past Kumeh into the top right portion of the net, triggering a wild celebration as J-D players and fans mobbed Lukow.