The Hercules High boys soccer team twice battled back from deficits, then got a goal in overtime from prodigious striker Jeremy Romero to earn a 3-2 win over host and No. 1 seed Ygnacio Valley on Wednesday and a trip to the North Coast Section Division II championship game.
Romero played a lofted ball into the box perfectly, driving home a laser of a volley in the 90th minute to start the celebration for fourth-seeded Hercules, which will play at No. 3 Dublin for the section championship on Saturday at 2 p.m.
The result was the latest chapter in what's been a remarkable run for the Titans (19-3-5), who have won 12 straight matches dating back to mid-January.
"We knew from the beginning that team has it, we had it last year and now this is our year to bring it home," Romero said. "It feels amazing, knowing my team has been counting on me and knowing if we work together, and never stop trying, we'll come out on top."
It was a heartbreaking result for the Warriors (20-3-1), who lost to an NCS team for the first time this season.
Jonathan Ayala put Ygnacio Valley up 2-1 with a 55th minute goal, which was a response to a Kevin Rivera goal that had evened the match at 1-1 for Hercules.
Lorran Fonseca scored in the 63rd minute to make it 2-2, and force overtime as both teams pressed for the winner before the extra period.
Dublin 2, Campolindo 0: Despite losing to the same team on the same field two weeks earlier, the Gaels were confident they going to beat host Campolindo and advance to Saturday's NCS Division II title game.
Thanks to a pair of goals by Dominik Katunaric, the Gaels are returning to the finals for the first time since winning the section championship in 2010.
"We just knew we were going to win. I don't know how to explain it, but we just knew it," Katunaric said. "We came in knowing we were going to have to give it our all, but we knew we could get the 'W'."
Katunaric scored in the 17th minute to put the visitors ahead, giving them more reason to be confident, and that 1-0 lead held until he iced the game by finishing a second goal in the late stages of the match.
In a driving rain, and with a 20-minute lightning delay, No. 3 Dublin (21-2-3) held the No. 2 seeded Cougars (16-5-5) at bay despite relentless pressure as the home side fought to get an equalizing goal and force overtime.
The Cougars came close a number of times, most notably with 11 minutes left when they hit the crossbar and then a return volley rolled just wide.
But with just seconds to play, the Cougars had everybody forward in an attempt to get the necessary goal and Katunaric found himself racing towards an empty net, and he did not miss.
De La Salle 3, San Ramon Valley 0: The host and No. 1 seeded Spartans (17-6-3) scored twice in the second half to pull away from the No. 5 Wolves (17-8-1) and advance to the NCS Division I title game for the sixth straight year. De La Salle will be searching for its sixth straight Division I title when it play No. 2 Monte Vista on Saturday at 7 p.m. at Dublin High.
Monte Vista 2, Amador Valley 2: The host Mustangs (19-3-3) outscored the No. 6 Dons (19-4-4) 4-3 in a penalty kick shootout to advance to the NCS Division I title game for the first time since winning the section title in 2007.
Charlie Zaloumis scored both of Monte Vista's regulation time, with his second coming two minutes into the second half that gave his team a 2-1 lead. Amador Valley tied the game 2-2 less than five minutes later, setting the stage for the thrilling finish.