The fans assumed the game was over. Even some of the players on the field probably let the thought cross their minds.
All that was left was a minute of passing the ball and watching the clock slowly dwindle down to zeroes. But Saul Lopez had other ideas.
Trailing 2-1 with 40 seconds remaining on the clock, East Hall sent a corner kick to Lopez, who struggled to gain possession before knocking a shot past the diving West Hall goalkeeper to tie the score with just 28 seconds left on the clock.
Both teams tried frantically in the waning moments to break the score, but neither could, as the game finished in a 2-2 tie on Friday in Gainesville.
“I just kind of froze up,” Lopez said after the game. “I just took the kick and put it in the net.”
The tie was a welcome outcome for a team that struggled throughout the first half to put any pressure on the West Hall defense.
East Hall coach Chris Horton credited a change in formation and strategy at the half for helping the Vikings (3-1-1) begin to attack on offense.
“We made a few halftime adjustments,” Horton said. “We started pressuring the ball more. Overall, we just played well for 80 minutes, and that’s big.”
West Hall (3-2-1) took the lead early, scoring twice in the first half.
The Spartans got their first goal less than five minutes into the game when Edgar Jaimes, assisted by McGowan Peacock, took a shot from long range, and found the top-left corner of the goal.
Less than 20 minutes of play later, the Spartans extended their lead when Matt Lewis sent a penalty kick into the net.
But the fast start could not be maintained.
“We dominated early,” West Hall coach Wolfgang Jager said. “But you’ve got to play hard for 80 minutes. You have to give credit to East Hall for that.”
After a slow first half, the Vikings struck back early in the second, when Edgar Cerrano punched in a shot less than four minutes into the half.
The Spartans had their chances going forward to extend the lead, taking three shots that hit the crossbar and another that was saved by East Hall keeper Abel Olvera.
And when it came down to the wire, West Hall, which had done a good job holding the Vikings at bay down the stretch, simply could not keep Lopez from knocking in the equalizer.
“It was an exciting game,” Horton said. “To be down 2-0 and then tie it against a quality opponent — that’s impressive.”
The Vikings play next at Banks County on Tuesday. West Hall travels to Stephens County on Friday.
WEST HALL GIRLS 10, EAST HALL 0: The Lady Spartans scored early and often in their game against East Hall on Friday. Yohet Terrones scored twice in the first eight minutes to give them a 2-0 lead, but West Hall did not stop there.
The Lady Spartans scored four more times before the half, carrying a 6-0 lead back to the sidelines.
Rachel Kline, who recorded a hat trick and added an assist in the game, said her team did a great job of playing for each other and finishing strong.
“We did well playing it on the outside,” she said. “We played our game, not theirs, and finished well. We’re not a selfish team, so we were just trying to give each other good opportunities.”
Adding to the five combined goals from Terrones and Kline were Idalia Avelar, Brooke Reed, Elizabeth Gale, Gabby Ligas and Daysi Lucumi.
Obscured by the strong offensive output was a shutout recorded by keeper Kylie Beaman, who normally plays on junior varsity.
West Hall plays next at Stephens County, while East Hall takes on Banks County.