LOS ALAMITOS — Brian Piscopo woke up Wednesday not feeling his usual self. A 101-degree fever can do that to a teenager.
He wondered how the high temperature would affect him later in the day. At night, Piscopo had a big match with his Edison High boys' soccer team. A Sunset League championship was at stake at Los Alamitos.
Piscopo wasn't sure if he would have the strength to play.
"A couple of my teammates were just like, 'Remember Michael Jordan when he got the flu in the NBA Finals,'" said Piscopo, who wasn't born in 1997, the year Jordan rallied the Chicago Bulls to a road win in Game 5 against the Utah Jazz, but he has seen the highlights. "I was like, 'I'm not going to let [anything stop me from] playing.'"
Piscopo made it onto the field, and the midfielder wound up making the biggest play for Edison in league.
Piscopo made sure what happened in last season's league finale did not happen to the Chargers again. The way Piscopo felt, he probably wouldn't have been able to play in overtime.
The Chargers and Griffins seemed headed to overtime, as the Griffins evened things up in the 76th minute. Two minutes later, Piscopo scored the game-winning goal, lifting the Chargers to a 2-1 win and the league title.
For the second time in as many seasons, the final match decided first place in league. This time, Edison came out on top, finishing league 8-2 with 24 points, five ahead of the 6-3-1 Griffins.
After coming up short the past two seasons, each time placing second, Edison won league for the first time since the 2013-14 season. Coach Charlie Breneman was happy that the final contest in league did not go into overtime like last season, when the Chargers lost to rival Fountain Valley, 2-1, costing them the crown and letting Los Alamitos claim it.
The Griffins needed to beat Edison to repeat as league champions, and they tried to force overtime. Alex van Steenbergen scored in the 76th minute, making it a 1-1 game.
"[Overtime] would've been really sketchy because they would have had momentum and belief," Breneman said. "My heart sank [when the Griffins scored], so I know our players, it would've been tough in the overtime. We probably would've just defended."
There would be no tie and no overtime, thanks to Piscopo and Dominic Bair.
The two hooked up for the game-winning goal, as Bair took on a defender on the left side. He dribbled into the box and then toward the endline, where he found Piscopo close to the near post. How Piscopo was able to put away his shot still surprised his team.
"When it came in, I tried to flick it, so it trapped like in between my shinguard and my [right] foot, and the goalie dove because he thought I was going to flick it," Piscopo said. "The goal was open, so I toed it in."
Like Jordan, Piscopo came up huge in the final minutes for Edison, which is 18-4-1 and ranked No. 9 in the CIF Southern Section Division 1 poll.
For Piscopo, the league championship meant a lot because he has been playing with many of his current teammates since he was 8 years old. They're now outright league champions, and goalkeeper Mitchell Wilson played well, making nine saves, as did defender Andrew Brummett and midfielder Sam Kemper, who scored the first goal in the 12th minute.
The Edison boys join the Edison girls' soccer team as league champions. The girls edged Los Alamitos, 1-0, on Tuesday.
"Our girls' team won with a golden goal against Los Al to win league, so I wasn't going to let them do that to us," said Piscopo, whose team learns on Monday who it opens the playoffs with on Feb. 17. "We showed that we have a lot of character [going into] CIF. A lot of games are going to be close, and it's going to come down to the wire. I'm glad we pulled through."