Eventually the chances had to go in the net.
That's what the Larkin boys soccer team thought Thursday night. And eventually, they did.
The Royals scored twice in the final 10 minutes, including one with 17.4 seconds remaining, to beat Metea Valley, 2-1, in the quarterfinals of the Pepsi Showdown at Memorial Field.
"We controlled the game the whole time," Larkin coach Ken Hall said. "Their goalie played well. Their defense block a lot shots. I swear I jumped up five times thinking the ball was in the net and it didn't go in. We didn't quit. We know we can score."
No. 3 seed Larkin (8-1) advances to the semifinals on Saturday to play fifth-seeded Morton at Lyons High School. Game time will be announced today.
The Royals had the better of play against the Mustangs (4-4-2), but couldn't find a way to get the ball past goalkeeper Gabe Gongora. Gongora made 10 saves in the first 70 minutes to preserve the Mustangs' 1-0 lead. Metea Valley got that lead with 29:49 left in the second half as Jake Goehring headed home a Patrick Regal free kick.
Erik Rodriguez finally got the ball past Gongora with 9:51 remaining. The senior forward controlled a ball from Diego Rodriguez at the top of the penalty area. He turned to his right and fired a left-footed shot low on the wet, slick grass into the side netting to tie the match at 1-1.
"After have so many opportunities and suddenly they got one, we felt desperate," game-winning goalscorer Jorge Sibrian said through translator and assistant coach Art Alvarado. "We got the tying goal and had enough energy and motivation to put the second one in."
The Royals continued to attack, not wanting to go into overtime. It paid off as Michel Gomez fired a right-footed blast from about 25 yards out. Gongora made the save, but the rebound went right to Sibrian, who tucked the ball into the net for the victory.
"I was at the right place at the right time, finally," Sibrian said. "I did what I had to do."
Gongora finished with 14 saves, including 8 in the second half.
"He played stellar," Mustangs coach Josh Robinson said. "He's going to be hard on himself, but he shouldn't be. He played fantastic."