It seemed as if the chance would come. Coronado dominated possession, particularly in the second half, but didn't get many quality opportunties.
As it turned out, a missed penalty kick and a defensive lapse was the difference as the No. 3-seeded Dons fell, 1-0, to Phoenix Cortez on Friday night in the Division III boys state soccer championship at Campo Verde High School.
"It was just wasn't there," said junior defender Juan Reyes, the instigator of numerous runs. "We had opportunities but we just couldn't finish it. They battled and we battled but at the end there is only one winner."
Down 1-0 after the 11th minute, Coronado (14-2) continued to push the ball and played its up-tempo, possession passing type game against physical, similiarly-quick Cortez.
"We had our chances, we just couldn't put it in," said Coronado coach Mike Tsorin. "It's clear, we controlled the game, mostly. It just didn't go in for us. It's not a fair game sometimes."
But the Colts (14-3) have an outstanding goalie in Jonathan Atencio. He may have been the difference after all.
Mere seconds into the match, Coronado's Miguel Gonzalez was taken down in the goal box and the Dons were awarded a penalty kick. But Atencio turned away Eduardo Perez' shot, to keep the game scoreless.
"Well, it seems like it got stuck in our mind," Reyes said. "But we had to forget about it and move on and try to make it better. But then we made an error on defense, which cost us the game."
In that 11th minute, Cortez got a free kick, and on a Coroando defensive lapse, Daniel Lopez put the ball away from close range for the match's only goal.
"We thought, going into the half, that we were going to score one because our possession, our ball movement was way better than theirs," Reyes said. "They had a lucky break on our mistake on defense, and they capitalized and we didn't."
For Cortez, it was its second title in three years. The Colts won the 4A Division II title in 2010 after beating Coronado in the semifinals. Cortez lost in the semifinals last season to eventual-champion Notre Dame.
Playing in its first soccer title game in school history, Coronado used a fundamentally sound strategy, with Jesse Garcia and Miguel Gonzalez up front trying to set each other up. Reyes repeatedly got the play started at midfield on the left sideline. But the Cortez backline turned away almost all of those rushes.
When the Dons did get free, their shots went awry, sailing over the goal or wide of Atencio, who wasn't tested in the second half.
The Dons thought that they would get a goal eventually, as they did on Tuesday, when a 72nd-minute goal lifted Coronado past Douglas in the semifinal after the teams played an even 1-1 game for much of the night.