It's extremely rare for soccer matches to end with a player racing down the sideline trying not only to beat the clock, but looking for the game-winning goal.
But the buzzer-beater goal by Elgin midfielder Gaby Delgado in the Maroons' 2-1 win over crosstown rival Larkin was exactly that Wednesday night, and it's what soccer players and Hollywood writers dream of. It's also something the Maroons and Delgado will remember forever.
The junior managed to write the script herself when she received a feed from Idalys Quintano down the left sideline with 5 seconds left and then let it fly with 3 seconds remaining to the inside of the left post that skated through Larkin goalie Alejandra Villagomez's legs as time expired.
The Elgin sideline exploded into sheer bedlam as the Maroons came away with a huge Upstate Eight River win at Memorial Field.
"I really didn't think that was going to happen," said Delgado, who was mobbed by her teammates immediately after and said she would have cried if she had missed the shot. "I was just staring at the clock and I was running and just shot it and I saw it go in. It was amazing."
The scoreboard was facing Delgado, so she had knowledge of the time remaining. The buzzer-beating goal was also a first for Elgin coach Alicia Knoll.
"I have never been in a game (won) at the last second. That was pretty phenomenal and Gaby deserved it," said Knoll. "She's had so many close touches throughout this season. She kept pushing through and she got it when it mattered."
It capped off a come-from-behind win for Elgin, which trailed 1-0 at the half thanks to forward Jaci Bridgers' goal for the Royals in the 35th minute off a rebound.
Bridgers' goal was a bitter pill to swallow for Elgin (3-13) at the time since the Maroons overwhelmingly controlled possession for most of the first half and put 9 shots on goal opposed to the 3 Larkin (3-8) attempts in the first 40 minutes.
But Elgin stuck with its attack and sophomore forward Bopha Travis finally tapped in a pass from Jenny Lopez in the 60th minute to knot the game at 1. The Maroons created 6 shots in the second half, including a chance by midfielder Jenny Lopez with 1:25 remaining before Delgado's goal.
"If you keep pressuring the goal and keep pushing, one will go in and we got two to go in," said Knoll.
Larkin adjusted its strategy to counter Elgin's attack in the first half, but only heaved 3 shots at Hannel Demel, who finished with 6 saves.
"It happens," said Larkin coach Ken Hall. "They were pushing off, both teams are playing hard. It was a good game; (Delgado) is a great player. She's very fast and you can't let her get behind you and we did and paid the price."