Jack Hobday could tell early on Tuesday that he was in the zone.
Mayo's senior goalkeeper had been stellar throughout the Spartans' postseason run, but the feeling he had entering their Class AAA boys soccer state quarterfinal against top-seeded Minneapolis Southwest was different.
"The whole day, I was so locked in," Hobday said. "I have never felt something like this. It's an amazing feeling."
Hobday made save after save, erasing any scoring chance with composure and confidence. It was his play combined with another gritty, defensive effort, that gave the Spartans all they could ask for in the end: A chance to pull off the upset.
And when it was all said and done, the Spartans sent another highly-regarded team home early.
After a scoreless regulation and two 10 minute overtimes followed by an unexpected 18-minute power outage delay, sophomore Ben Heywood stepped up and drilled the penalty kick to send Mayo into the semifinals with a 1-0 (4-3 PKs) victory in a thriller at Farmington High School.
It was the 10th straight victory for Mayo (15-3), which has now defeated three straight top-10 ranked teams in Century, Lakeville South and Minneapolis Southwest. It was the second game in a row that the Spartans handed a team its first loss of the season as the Lakers season ends at 14-1-2.
"Minneapolis Southwest is an incredibly strong team," coach Tim Jennings said. "They attack very well, they possess the ball very well, they move the ball very well. Not a lot of weaknesses in their game.
"I'm just so happy for our players. So happy."
Southwest came out and put the Spartans on their heels in a script that felt familiar to Mayo's two previous playoff games against Century and Lakeville South. Only this time, Southwest was a different animal.
It had a number of attackers who not only had tremendous individual talent, but who were composed with the ball. It didn't matter if they were double-covered, they could make the most of the situation, putting great pressure on Mayo.
"They're so good," Hobday said. "We play a lot of them in the summer. No. 10 Isaac Fox, No. 8 Paolo Guarin, they have a lot of really, really good players that we have known for a while. A lot of credit to them. I think they are the best team in this tournament -- just talent all over the field. But we knew coming into the game -- we let one in against Century, zero against Lakeville South -- that we could do the same."
It forced the Spartans to put nine, 10 and sometimes even 11 in the back 40 yards of their own goal in hopes of limiting the space for the Lakers to operate. But for Mayo, that is something they are more than comfortable doing.
"We definitely had to sit back and defend a lot, which is our game," Jennings said.
Yet, Mayo began to find its rhythm in the second half with Tim Persons and Yonis Muse finding a little more room to work with. However, Southwest was a lot like Mayo in the back end: well-coached and disciplined. It held strong and really limited the number of threatening chances.
The result was a stalemate between two well-coached teams. Yet, with the way Hobday was playing, the feeling was that if Mayo could get to a penalty shootout, it could pull it out.
They had to get there first.
They did that, thanks in part, to Hobday, who made a pair of clutch saves in the extra periods after seven in the second half to help send the game into extra time at 0-0. He finished the game with 12 saves.
"Just a man-of-the-match kind of performance from him," Jennings said.
"Once it got to overtime, honestly, the only thing in my mind was going to (penalties)," Hobday said. "I knew we could score, but I knew once we got to 'pens,' we weren't going to lose.
"I've known for a long time that if it ever goes into penalties, we're not losing."
Then everything went dark as the stadium's lights went out, causing an 18-minute delay before they were back on.
"The stadium tried to freeze us, I guess," Jennings said.
But it didn't freeze Hobday, who made the key save with a diving stop to his left in Round 4 of the shootout to break a 3-3 tie. After Southwest missed its PK in Round 5, Heywood stepped up and like he had done in practice so many times, drilled the ball into the net to send the Spartans into the Class AAA semifinals with a 4-3 advantage in the shootout.
"I'm the lone sophomore on the team, so I thought there was no chance," Heywood said. "So once I heard my name, I couldn't think about anything else: Just finish it.
"I was so confident. I had hit every single one in practice, 10-for-10, one of the only guys in practice to do it. They believed in me, and I just walked up to it and buried it like I knew I would."
There was no hesitation from the Mayo coaching staff to use Heywood.
"He's just been money as he's just made every single penalty kick we've taken in practice," Jennings said. "So it's like, 'Yep, you're going.'"
Mayo will now play No. 4 Mounds View — which knocked off No. 5 Stillwater 2-1 — at 8 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 3 at U.S. Bank Stadium.
"It's a really good feeling," Hobday said. "We get a nice week off to get our bodies and our minds back. We have to come locked in just like this. Play as well defensively as we do and I'm confident, we'll get a goal or two next game."