Angel Villalobos fell to his knees in a heap, the weight of an entire season finally lifted from his shoulders.
As he sat just outside the north goal at Shadow Hills High School, Marshall High celebrated in the background. The Knights’ goalie threw his right glove, then his left before he was embraced by a pair of oncoming teammates.
The improbable CIF run was over.
For 90 minutes Villalobos kept the Knights alive against one of the top teams in the CIF Southern Section Division V bracket. The goalie kept the Knights’ opponent off the board through regulation and overtime. It took the penalty kick tiebreaker for Marshall to score. Marshall won the scoreless game by penalty kcisk 4-1.
Adrian Ramirez scored the game-winning goal on Marshall’s fourth kick of the shootout. Shadow Hills made its first, then missed its next two, putting Ramirez in position to put the game away.
The whistle blew and Ramirez took three steps toward the ball before firing it to the far left side of the goal. Villalobos misread the kick initially, taking one step toward the right before realizing there was little chance of recovering.
The loss ends the Knights’ nine-game unbeaten streak, and halts a historic run for a squad that had never previously made the postseason. Shadow Hills was the only boys’ team from the valley still playing this week.
“We made history here,” Villalobos said. “What a season we had. This is one I’ll always remember.”
The Knights controlled the game for much of the afternoon, and Villalobos made eight saves to keep Shadow Hills in contention. Offensively, though, few shots went uncontested, and Marshall goalie Antonio Diaz swatted away or saved the ones that slipped through the defensive line.
A robust crowd of more than 150 helped keep the Knights going strong in spite of coming up empty on seven shots.
After two halves and a pair of 10 minute overtime periods, the game eventually came down to the shootout — a scenario Shadow Hills had never experienced.
“When we went to overtime, we felt we were going to win,” midfielder Cesar Castaneda said. “We thought we had the game.”
Marshall’s Kevin Romero took the first kick and converted to the right side of the goal, putting Marshall up, 1-0. Shadow Hills’ Chris Zapata answered with a goal of his own. But that was the last time Shadow Hills found the back of the net. The Knights missed on their next two attempts, while David Alvarez and Jose Carranza converted theirs for Marshall.
On the fourth attempt, with Marshall leading 3-1, all Ramirez had to do was find the back of the net and Shadow Hills would be finished. His goal to the left ended the best season in school history at Shadow Hills, a year that appeared to be over before the second half of the season even began.
Though the road ended Tuesday, most players were upbeat. This was a time to finally exhale and celebrate.
“Me as a senior, I’m just happy,” forward David Diaz said. “We had a great season, so I’m satisfied. And it’s only going to get better here at Shadow Hills.”