The St. Edward girls soccer team came so close to a berth in the Class 1A state championship game. In fact, the Green Wave was a mere 30 seconds away.
And that's when complete utter fray in front of the Wave's goal changed both Manteno and St. Edward's fate in a flash and the hopes and dreams were gone for Wave just like that.
A confusing sequence on a corner ball that pinballed in front of the Wave goal sent by Manteno's Hannah Ondrey with 28.9 left on the clock that Emily Witt initially cleared was ruled good and forced overtime.
And ultimately as the game bled into a shootout Manteno walked away with a 3-0 advantage for a 2-1 win in a Class 1A state semifinal match at North Central College in Naperville Friday.
Not only was the Green Wave's 17-straight shutout streak snapped, the loss marked the end of the Wave's 18-game win streak.
St. Edward (25-3) will face off with Rockford Christian (16-3-1) at 3 p.m. Saturday for third place, a far different idea of how the Green Wave wanted to spend their Saturday at Benedetti-Wehrli Stadium. Instead it will be Manteno playing Rochester for the title.
But if you ask the Green Wave or defender Witt in particular of what actually happened on the Manteno (24-2) late goal in regulation, maybe the Wave have every right to feel gypped.
"The ball never crossed the plane. I know for a fact," Witt said. "I saw it tip over (goalie) Paige (Dykstra) and I was over where I should have been, right behind her to the left and I kicked it out. I don't know what the ref saw but he called it a goal. I just think the effort that the defense and the offense and that every single person has put in this game and this whole entire season to think that it went our way and a call by the ref that changes everything, it's probably the hardest thing to deal with."
"(The) cross the came and the ball was going toward the net," forward Alex Zeller said. "(Dykstra) got pushed away, our defender Emily Witt made a great save."
"I saw the kick go in, I saw Emily clear it out before it (crossed the line)," Green Wave coach Tim Brieger said.
Although Ashley Lopez scored the lone goal for the Wave off a Corey Lepoudre assist in the 55th minute for a 1-0 lead, the late Manteno goal allowed two 10-minute overtimes. The Wave put forth 3 great chances from midfielder Monica Ramirez, but nothing came to fruition. Then came penalty kicks, where St. Edward went second and hit the post twice while Manteno made 3 of its first 4 to end it, on Sophia Schnitzler's boot, breaking the Green Wave's hearts.
"It was probably worse than losing in supersectionals last year because this is literally the farthest a St. Edward team had ever gotten ever (in soccer) and to have it taken away in less than 30 seconds, it killed every single one of us," said senior forward Allison Krukm who along with Witt, Ramirez and Lepoudre played on the 2011 team that finished fourth at state.
"It's tough, that's how we see it," Brieger said. "One (heck) of a game between two outstanding opponents who just played their hearts out, it was end-to-end soccer, this is probably the best game of the weekend. It was an amazing, amazing game. It's just too bad it went to PKs."
For the most part, St. Edward had everything in tact. The Wave held Manteno to 10 shots and held Panthers' leading goal scorer Emily Gaither, who scored 40 goals on the year, to nothing. The Wave dominated the midfield and outshot the Panthers 20-10, which included 9 corner kicks. Dykstra made 7 saves and the Green Wave defense stymied the Panthers, who had no answer until the end.
"St. Edward was the real deal, we knew they were going to be the real deal, we knew this was going to be a dogfight," Panthers' coach Kevin Mikuce said. "We have this refuse to lose attitude. Hannah Ondreys got our best outside shot and I was screaming at her 'it's got to be on frame,' and she hit it hard and low and there was a kind of a scramble and it hit across the line before they kicked it out."
And although Kruk admits another goal would have helped but says the Wave didn't need it, there's still history to be written albeit in a third-place game.
"It's still not a failure, they're still on the cusp of greatness, this game does not define this team, this game does not define these girls," Brieger said. "It didn't go our way but we didn't lose to an inferior opponent, we didn't lose in an inferior game."