Duluth Marshall coach Mike Sengbush considers his boys' soccer team an "anomaly." It can drive him crazy, in a good and bad way.
It reached a breaking point Saturday. He had seen enough with the Hilltoppers trailing Cooper by five goals in a nonconference match with 10 minutes remaining.
"I basically conceded at that time in the game," Sengbush said.
He had players suffering from nagging injuries and others coming off colds or COVID-19. A senior captain exited at halftime to go play hockey.
"As the game neared its conclusion, I started plucking certain players off the field," Sengbush said. "I cycled our rotation of available players around just so we could get by. Then the weirdness started."
The Class 1A Hilltoppers (6-7-1) scored six goals in the final six minutes, rallying for a 7-6 victory over the Class 3A Hawks (3-8-2). Junior forward Denzel Majwega netted the game-winning goal, his fourth goal of the game, in the 79th minute.
"It was simply ridiculous," Sengbush said. "That word, ridiculous, just keeps coming to me in my mind. It is easy to say that I have never experienced what this team has done or put me through."
Majwega scored the Hilltoppers' first two goals of the rally, 31 seconds apart in the 74th and 75th minutes. Freshman Benson Peterson scored his first varsity goal 16 seconds later to make it 6-4.
"I was like, 'Really, this might happen?' " Sengbush said. "Once we got close, some of the boys on the bench started asking me if they could/should go back in. I said: 'Uh no, I am not screwing this up and we are going to let it ride.' "
Then sophomore midfielder Briar Mrozik scored quick back-to-back goals, tying it 6-6 with just over three minutes remaining.
"It was the most unlikely of sequences," Sengbush said. "I felt bad for their coach, Kent Getchell, someone I have known for many years. He is an accomplished coach and must have had his heart sink deep. This was the most improbable of comebacks."
Majwega scored the game-winner on a free kick from 19 yards out that caught the lower corner of the far side of the net with 59 seconds remaining. It was his 22nd goal of the season. He also had an assist in the game, his eighth of the season.
"As a coach this drives you insane," Sengbush said. "When you have moments like this you just take a step back and say, 'Well, that was crazy.' "