Maybe it's too early to call the South Elgin boys soccer squad a team of destiny, but if you could say anything about the Storm's debut Tuesday is that it at least knows how to channel its inner-Cristiano Ronaldo in the waning seconds.
In an ending slightly similar to how the USA Men's soccer team squandered the lead in the closing seconds of its World Cup match against Portugal this summer, St. Charles North watched its victory slip away when a throw-in by Storm forward Jose Gomez on the left sideline ricocheted off Juan Carlos Lujan's shoulder in the box controversially with just 26 seconds to end an Upstate Eight crossover in a 1-1 tie.
"We were just desperate for that goal," said Gomez, who said the ball went of Lujan's shoulder. "Honestly, my mindset was to just throw it into the goal and see who gets it. Luckily JC was right there for us and he put it in."
Ask a player on North's team if Lujan pulled a Diego Maradona however, you might get a different response.
"From what I saw it went behind (Lujan) and he was running like that and it hit off his hand and it went in," said North goalkeeper Kevin Sabres, who had 1 save. "It was upsetting. We should have been able to hold onto that and get the win."
"Any kind of play like that, an inbound or a set play, a ball in the air in the box, it's supposed to be ours," North coach Eric Willson said. "It wasn't, we let them beat us to it and it feels like a loss today."
Lujan's goal for South Elgin erased a 32-minute lead North (1-0-1) picked up in the 50th minute when Alex Amro found Nick Graham and he tucked one in the right corner of the net from just inside the lower left corner of the box. It looked with the possession in North's favor throughout and a shot advantage of 14-5, the Stars were on their way to a 2-0 start. But a lack of focus down the stretch piled up 3 yellow cards which turned into a red for Graham in the final moments.
"I thought it was the last seven or 10 minutes that we lost our composure," Willson said. "(We had) been grinding it out all game long, thought we just lost our ability to connect passes, lost possession of the ball, ended up playing long ball after long ball and then defended and when you do that, it's kind of matter of a time."
Willson and Storm coach Nate Bowman couldn't be on more opposite sides in regards to how their teams started and finished. Bowman watched his team struggle with passing and possession and the midfield in the first half but managed to settle down when the time was right.
"I think guys kind of forgot how we're supposed to play since last year," Bowman said. "I think they were so tired they had no choice but to pass the ball to someone else because they couldn't run anymore and start playing the way they're supposed to, making the ball do the running and get into their open position. "