Number fifty was nifty.
Brophy junior Riggs Lennon's final step in reaching the half-century mark in goals scored this season wasn't any kind of wizardy or eye-popping display. He's had plenty of those moments; this was merely a flip of his left foot.
Aesthetics don't win championships, but Lennon made sure the No. 6-seeded Broncos might. Again. He won a foot race to the ball with Tolleson goalkeeper David Aguilera in the final minute of the second overtime and bounced the ball over Aguilera into the net to complete a crazy comeback at Campo Verde High School.
The Broncos' 3-2 victory pits them against No. 4 Hamilton for the Division I state championship match Saturday at 6 p.m. at Campo Verde High School, the scene of last year's tilt between these two schools, won late by Brophy.
Wednesday's win also came after No. 10 Tolleson stifled Lennon for most of the night, and the Wolverines held a 2-0 lead with 16 minutes left in regulation.
"Even in the face of being down 2-0 and six-feet under, they didn't give up," Brophy coach Marc Kelly said.
After Brophy goalie Nate Sundermeier made a point-blank save on Tolleson, the Wolverines hounded again and scored on a header by Ruben Hernandez nine minutes into the match.
Then moments after Brophy made a tactical switch to put more players up front with only two defenders to generate offense, Tolleson appeared to ice the night with 21 minutes left when Jeremy Steiner (who missed the previous eight matches for disciplinary reasons) won a 50-50 ball and hit the right corner of the net.
That's when the wildness broke out.
Though not without its chances, Lennon had gone quiet because of Tolleson's man-marking defense, and the Broncos were shut out for 83 minutes in falling behind 2-0.
That was erased quickly. Fellow forward David Lane completed a perfect 2-on-1 and hit the easy feed into the corner to make it 2-1 with 16 minutes left.
Nearly 30 seconds (yes, seconds) later, Clarence Clark scored on a header from Will Gridley.
"That was pretty lucky," Clark said of the events of the 16th minute. "You don't see that anywhere, on any level."
Tolleson, however, temporarily recovered from the potentially disastrous turn of events to force overtime, but the Broncos had more chances in the extra sessions, and for a second time in five days, Lennon helped the Broncos refuse would could have been another invitation for penalty kicks.
"Some of us were getting down but I tried to keep talking and that we were going to come back," Clark said. "(Lennon) was down for a bit but we had to get our heads up, and he came up clutch again."
Mark Heller is the East Valley Tribune sports editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (480) 898-6576.