As Coronado coach Mike Tsorin watched his team trot onto the north end of the soccer field at Chaparral High for a season-deciding penalty-kick shootout, he had to have been thinking one thing - not this.
For the third time in Tsorin’s tenure with the program, Coronado’s fate in the in the 4A-II state tournament was decided in penalty kicks; once again resulting in his team’s elimination 2-1 (4-3) Wednesday night to No. 1 seed Phoenix Cortez in the semifinal match – the first such appearance in Coronado history.
Tied at three in penalty kicks, Coronado had an opportunity to take a one-shot lead. Coronado’s Alejandro Medina was unable to find the range, sailing his kick well above goal. The Cortez goalie proceeded to win the game on the next attempt.
“(Penalty kicks) are 50-50,” Tsorin said. “It’s just nerves. In practice it’s an easy shot but in games it’s really hard.”
Coronado senior forward Anibal Albarran scored the first goal of the game nearly thirty minutes in. As a deflected pass lofted near his waist, Albarran dipped his upper torso back, lifted and swung his extended right leg perpendicular to his body and smashed the ball into the lower corner of the net.
Surprisingly, Coronado seemed to control possession of the ball and field most of the contest. Goalie Emigdio Esquivel, the recipient of what sounded to be a chant of “el nino” from the Coronado crowd, made numerous saves throughout the game, including three diving stops in the second half.
As the evening sky began to fade to an opaque night, Cortez finally broke through with 12 minutes remaining in the contest.
Neither team had a serious attempt at breaking the deadlock in the 20 minutes of overtime.
Just before the shootout, many fans from both sides left the stands, lining up behind a fence near the north goal to get a better view.
Coronado’s Hector Valentin scored on the first penalty kick which was not answered by Cortez on their first attempt. After missing their second kick, Coronado scored on its third when Luis Santana went high. Cortez made their final four kicks, but not before Albarran tied the game at three — the final goal of his career and Coronado’s season.
As Cortez rushed the field after their season-saving kick, many of Coronado’s players fell to the ground with their hands over their heads and heads between their knees.
Words were hard to find.
“We did the best we could,” Albarran said. “We just didn’t do it. It’s really sad.”