A dream come true

Joe Gilmer’s dream turned prophetic, and his son’s team is advancing to district play.

Gilmer, who ran the scoreboard and was the public address announcer for Saturday’s sectional final match between Columbian and Lexington, turned to the others in the press box during the second half of what was a scoreless match.

He said he had a dream where his son, TC forward Nathaniel Gilmer, won the game with a penalty kick.

When Columbian’s Kevin Miller was tripped in the box during the second overtime with the game still scoreless, Nathaniel Gilmer was presented with just that opportunity.

“As I walked up to that PK, I felt some pressure,” the junior said. “But as I started taking it, it was just gone.”

Gilmer’s kick sailed out of the reach of Minutemen goalkeeper Kyle Dunlap and into the net.

Joe Gilmer’s dream came true, and the Tornadoes advanced to the district semifinals at Clyde, where they will square off will Northern Ohio League rival Norwalk Wednesday.

Gilmer’s kick ended a game that seemed like it was sudden death from the start of the second half.

“Then entire game, I was thinking, ‘we just need one chance,'” TC goalkeeper Josh Gibson said. “It didn’t matter if it was through regular time or if it went into overtime or penalty kicks.”

Columbian coach Rob Ochier said Nathaniel Gilmer’s goal was the culmination of an up and down season.

“Halfway through the season, I talked to Nathaniel, and I’d actually lost confidence in him taking the penalty kicks,” Ochier said. “He missed a couple, I actually had other guys taking kicks for a couple of games. I got confidence back, he got confidence back, and it was the right moment for him.”

It was Gilmer’s moment, but it was Gibson’s game. Gibson made some key saves late in the second half and a few more in overtime to keep the game scoreless.

“It was a lot on the defense, and this kid right here,” Gilmer said, pointing to Gibson after the game. “He kept us in the game so much.”

In the first overtime, Tiffin’s defense was pushed, with Lexington keeping control of the ball near the TC goal for the majority of it.

“It all came down to how our defense played,” Gibson said. “Our defense played fantastic, better than they’ve ever played. And as a whole, this is our best team effort that I’ve seen in my four years playing for Columbian.

“I just knew I had to stay focused and keep my team in it for as long as possible.”

Ochier lauded Gibson’s performance.

“I think Gibson’s saves in that first overtime were momentum for us,” Ochier said. “Gibson… I’m gonna miss him next year. He’s a wonderful keeper. I’ve been coaching him for four years. He does an excellent job back there. He’s an athletic keeper, makes some athletic saves, and there about a minute and a half left to go in the first overtime, he made a heck of a save that kept us in the game.”

It’s been a long time since Columbian has played in districts, so long that Ochier said he wasn’t sure of the exact year.

“From what I understand, it was like, late ’90s,” Ochier said.

It’s was long enough that Nathaniel Gilmer still appeared to be in disbelief minutes after the game was over.

“I’m finding a hard time believing it myself right now,” Gilmer said.

So, Columbian’s season continues Wednesday against the Truckers, a team they went 1-1 against in the regular season.

“Norwalk’s a very quality club, and we need to bring our best game to go on from there,” Ochier said.

Columbian improved to 13-4.