Racing against time and trailing by a score, the East Union girls soccer team turned to desperation.
Head coach Jim Todd sent nearly everyone into the attacking third of the field, searching … hunting … begging for the equalizer.
Meghan Wallace let go with a shot from the endline. Saved.
Kianna Lamont ripped a 25-yard strike across the face of the goal. Out of bounds.
When the final whistle sounded, No. 4 Colfax celebrated an upset victory over the top-seeded Lancers, a 2-1 decision at Dino Cunial Field that changed on a controversial call early in the second half.
Katie Garcia’s penalty kick in the 53rd minute proved to be the difference maker. Garcia was knocked down during a challenge with goalie Ashley Almeida in the penalty box.
Todd contends Almeida touched the ball first and that the contact was incidental, but the center referee and line judge saw it differently.
The line judge began waving his flag immediately after the full-sprint collision between goalie and striker, indicating a foul.
“I definitely think that PK was not a PK,” Todd said. “I thought she got a hand on the ball. It’s tough.”
Garcia netted both goals for Colfax (13-5-4), which will play for the Division IV section championship on Saturday.
East Union, on the other hand, put its once-promising season to rest.
The Lancers finished 21-2-2 on the season and said goodbye to a senior class that clinched back-to-back Division 4 playoff appearances and one Valley Oak League championship (2012).
Their season-long pursuit was to make history; to become the first team in program history to reach – and win – a section crown.
Better luck next year.
“I wish I could stay a couple more years,” senior co-captain Erica daSilva said. “I love these girls. They made my senior year.”
daSilva took command of the postgame huddle, imploring her teammates to keep their heads held high.
“We didn’t back down,” she said. “I feel content with our team and how we played. We gave it our all.”
daSilva and fellow captains Kianna and Kayla Lamont had just one request of their teammates: No tears.
“The girls said no tearing up and I was like, ‘Great,’ ” said Todd, tears collecting in his eyes.
Freshman Isabella Cardenas scored the Lancers’ only goal, flipping a left-footed shot into the side panel to tie score at 1-1 late in the first half.
Almeida finished with three saves.
“They battled,” Todd said. “I thought that was a great program. That’s definitely a club team that plays together. That was a really good team.”
For the second straight game, East Union had its chances to pull away. The Lancers outshot Colfax 9-6, including six on frame.
Cardenas dominated the opening half, using her physicality and acumen to create several near-scoring chances.
She was a half-step early on a through ball in the 12th minute. She was whistled for offsides, negating a 1-on-1 with goalie Lindsey Platt (four saves).
Fifteen minutes later, she centered a ball to Madeline Yslava in the box. Yslava’s shot caromed off the crossbar and landed at the feet of a hard-charging Marissa King who whiffed on the rebound.
Cardenas took the equalizer into her own hands in the 38th minute.
She collected a ball at the top of the penalty area with a defender on her hip. With a hard cut, she positioned herself for a left-footed shot back against the run of play.
All Platt could do was wave.
“I don’t think they outplayed us,” Todd said. “We just couldn’t string anything together. It was good pass, good touch, kick ball. It was good pass, good touch and then let’s kick down field and hope our forwards can win a footrace. You can’t do that too often.”
Colfax took a 1-0 lead in the third minute when East Union, playing with Kianna Lamont on the bench to start, failed to clear a ball out of its own end.
The ball eventually found its way to Garcia, who slotted her shot past the outstretched arms of Adrieanna Wood.
Lamont didn’t start because of an injured ankle. She entered the game in the 8th minute with a noticeable limp.
If he could, Todd said he would have started the Cal State East Bay commit.
“A goal came from that side. That one is on me,” Todd said. “I’ll take two losses and a tie. Those kinds of decisions come on a gut feeling. Who can rise up?”
Garcia answered the call for Colfax, burning the Lancers in the 53rd minute for their aggressive play.
She pinged her shot into the upper right-hand corner. Almeida went low and left.
“We played hard. We played for each other,” daSilva said. “They got a break with the penalty kick. There was nothing we could do to change that. We can only control how we play.”