Clay Rosselot scores with 3.8 seconds left, leading boys soccer to State Playoffs

Decatur players jump for joy after Rosselot’s goal in the final 3.8 seconds of the regular-time game.

With a mere 3.8 seconds left on the clock, the DHS Boys Soccer team is down 4-3 to Cross Keys.

Decatur players jump for joy after Rosselot’s goal in the final 3.8 seconds of the regular-time game. (Photo courtesy of Clay Rosselot)

Decatur goalkeeper, senior Clay Rosselot, steps up from his position in the goal to take the kickoff with fellow player, junior James Tribe. As a goalie, Rosselot has the strongest kick on the team. In a last chance effort, he will boot an almost futile kick towards the opposing team’s goal from half-field. 

“At that point, most of us had just put our heads down because we just thought that, well, part of our season was over. We were worried that that was going to be it; there was going to be no playoffs and that was our season,” Tribe said.

As soon as Rosselot kicks the ball, the clock resumes, and he has 3.8 seconds to score. Rosselot explains: “It doesn’t matter if the ball is traveling in the air to the goal or whatnot, as soon as the buzzer goes off, the game is over.”

The arc of Rosselot’s kick is a perfect parabola;  Rosselot hears the buzzer sound, marking the end of the regular-time game, about a second after his shot curves gracefully into the goal to tie the game and lead the team into overtime. The referees confirmed the goal.

“Our Goalkeeper Coach talked to us about it, and he said that if it was six inches above where it landed, then it would have gone over. If it was six inches below, then the keeper just would have caught it,” Tribe said.

 


Leading up to this moment, Decatur holds a 2-0 lead over Cross Keys in a game that can launch them into the playoffs. Their lead and the slim margin of time left blankets them in comfort; three-fourths of the game has passed. A goal off of a Cross Keys penalty kick threatens this lead. But, despite some added stress, players are still relatively relaxed as they hold a lead. 

When Cross Keys scores again to equalize the game, Decatur boys are jolted back to reality. Sentiments deviate from relaxed to escalating adrenaline levels, the likes of which Rosselot, Tribe and Head Coach David Harbin have never experienced in a soccer game.

In the final two minutes of the game, four goals are scored, almost unheard of in a game of soccer. Rosselot describes this time as “constant ups and downs” and “a crazy whirlwind of emotions.” At one minute and 28 seconds left, Cross Keys gets another goal to turn the tables in their favor. Their goal is short lived; Decatur follows with one to equalize the game again. In the last 30 seconds, Rosselot makes a save that leads to a corner. Cross Keys takes advantage of the opportunity and scores. The clock freezes with 3.8 seconds on it, a meager number at best. 

“I think that the odds were pretty against us. So, most of us had just thought: let’s give it a shot and see what happens,” Tribe said. “I honestly have not seen anything like [Rosselot’s goal] ever before, so I kind of thought that was the game.” 

When Rosselot manifested a preposterous idea into reality by scoring from half-field in less than 3.8 seconds, everyone in the stadium– Decatur players, Cross Keys players, coaches, parents– was stunned. 

“I just remember it being the craziest thing I had ever seen,” Tribe said. “Honestly, for one, scoring a last minute goal in a game is crazy in itself. Even when we tied the game with a minute to go, in a normal game, we would have been talking about that for weeks anyways. But then with the three seconds left, I don’t think I could even compare it to anything because I don’t think I’ve seen anything on TV, or anything like that, ever before.”  

Head Coach David Harbin refuses credit for Rosselot’s goal, but rather is proud of him and the team. 

“People have been asking me if we’ve been practicing that and if you know anything about soccer then you would know that, of course not, we have not been practicing kicking the ball off and trying to score on the kickoff,” Harbin said. “That’s just something you may try for fun, but typically that’s only going to happen in a very, very desperate situation and that was really the only option we had.”

Although Rosselot takes some of the team’s free kicks, he considers taking a shot at kickoff a “very rare circumstance.” “I will probably never shoot from there ever again,” he said.

Rosselot is mobbed by his teammates as they hug him after his goal. (Photo courtesy of Clay Rosselot)

Rosselot specifically stepping up to take the kick is representative of the leadership role he’s taken on this season. 

“Any of those guys will tell you that Clay has stepped up, not just in this situation, but he’s stepped up as a leader for this team, and he’s kind of been the voice of this team and the heartbeat of the team,” Harbin said. “So, I don’t know whether the soccer gods were rewarding him for his leadership and everything he’s done for this team, but he certainly deserved [the goal] and what he did was incredible and put us in a great situation.”

Before a game starts, a boys soccer tradition is to huddle up for a game chant as a way to excite the team. Harbin is always interested to see “who ends up stepping up to be the hype man in the middle [of the circle], the voice that coordinates the team.” This year, Harbin describes how Rosselot has stepped up in that way and many others. Though Harbin doesn’t name captains due to his philosophy that everyone has the “opportunity and responsibility to be a leader,” he believes Rosselot “has certainly been the one who has taken on that responsibility to the most.”

“In practice [Rosselot] is constantly communicating, he’s holding people accountable, he’s organizing the team, getting people where they need to go, he finds positive ways to improve, he’s not afraid to step up and say what needs to be said, which is huge for our team,” Harbin said.


After the goal was scored, the team was empowered by Rosselot’s goal, invigorated with the energy it evoked. In light of this celebratory mood, they were so excited, in fact, Harbin was primarily focused on calming them down. “We did have to turn around and then go play two ten minute overtimes” Harbin said.”

Immediately following Rosselot’s goal, the other team is shocked, staring in disbelief at the goal. (Photo courtesy of Clay Rosselot)

After Tribe sprinted over to the bench in celebration, he recalls processing the significance of what had just happened as he drank water, and then refocusing along with the rest of the team. 

“We just got everyone together and told them ‘We still have twenty minutes where we could either lose or win.’ We kind of just said ‘Clay did not just do that so that we could lose the game,’” Tribe said.

Both Rosselot and Tribe speak to the “energy” and “momentum” that the kick propelled. “If you just looked at the Cross Keys players you could tell they were shocked and confused, and didn’t know what the heck just happened to them,” Rosselot said.

“[Cross Keys] had pretty much believed they won the game,” Tribe said. “So when they saw [Rosselot’s goal] I think it kind of rattled them in a way because, I know if that had happened to me, I would have been pretty mad because it’s pretty impossible to pull off, especially with three seconds left.”

Decatur boys sprint to congratulate Rosselot. (Photo courtesy of Clay Rosselot)

With what Rosselot calls “a deep bench” —a team composed of many talented players— the Decatur team was prepared for overtime. In the first overtime period, they scored, making the final score 5-4 and cementing their position in the State Playoffs tournament. 

According to Harbin, the team entered the game knowing its significance; if they won, they would most likely place second in the region, awarding them home-field advantage in the State Playoffs. “If we lost, depending on some other factors, it was very likely we would end up in a four way if not a five way tie for second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth. Then it would come down to a lot of math with goal differential to determine who would actually get the spots in the state tournament,” Harbin said.

“A lot was riding on [the game] and we kind of knew it was do or die,” Tribe said.

For everyone there, Harbin and Tribe feels the moment will be unforgettable, not only because of it’s sheer improbability, but also the wild final two minutes of the game. 

“The score was 2-2 with two minutes left in the game,” Harbin said. “I think anyone who has watched soccer would kind of assume that the game was going to end 2-2 or maybe one team scores and it ends 3-2, but there were four goals scored in the last two minutes of the game which is just crazy… I’m happy for these guys that they have such a positive memory to put in their bag and take with them and talk about together for a long time.”

Even Decatur players on the bench rush out to the field to revel in the aftermath of Rosselot’s unbelievable play. (Photo courtesy of Clay Rosselot)

Despite higher hurdles to overcome this year due to the pandemic, injuries, sicknesses, virtual school and a season cut short in 2020, Harbin is excited the team is “continuing to do special things” through the leadership of Rosselot and other seniors. Traditions like spaghetti dinners before home games, spending time in the locker room and coordinating clothes on game day in school have been uprooted by pandemic restrictions.   

“The other seniors [and I] have just been trying to get the team to gel together because it’s been a rough year in that and we only have six or seven players who have actually played a full Varsity season, and another 10 that have played about half of a Varsity season,” Rosselot said. “So, we’re very, I don’t want to say young, but inexperienced in knowing what playoffs are like. So, it’s been just about trying to teach those younger kids what it’s like.”


In the aftermath of the game, a clip capturing Rosselot’s goal in the final 3.8 seconds went viral. The clip was screen recorded from the full recording, filmed by team manager, senior Kristopher Williams. Typically, the team analyzes their performance in games through recordings, which they post to the online resource Hudl

Rosselot and many teammates posted the clip on their Instagram stories, which last 24 hours. “dhspics,” an sports photography account run by DHS alumnus and photographer Keson Graham, reposted it as an actual post, which is more lasting than a story. dhspics has a following of 2,370, primarily Decatur students, alumni, parents and community members. From there, circulation increased, as people besides team members were able to repost the video. Overtime FC, an even larger account for high school soccer, with a following of 509,000, reposted it as well. That’s when Rosselot says “it got pretty big.” 

“Everyone from the team put that in their story. Then, other people from the school, people who I didn’t even know knew anything about soccer, put it on their story,” Rosselot said. “I was hearing from an ex-teammate of mine who goes to school in Connecticut and his friends were posting it on their story.” 

As the Head Coach, Harbin also worked to do everything he could think of to “get Clay the publicity that I thought that play deserved.” This included posting it on social media groups and contacting friends who work in local sports news. Ultimately, the play ended up on Fox 5 News.

“I think it’s cool for all of us to have a situation like that and definitely for Clay, to see his name and his goal all over social media and even on the news,” Tribe said.

 

Please contact the writer, Alexis Siegler, at 94alexsieg@csdecatur.net with any comments or questions!