Life's not always fair, and neither is sports.
Forest Grove and Summit battled for 80 minutes of regulation, and an extra 20 minutes in overtime, before penalty kicks vaulted the Storm into Saturday's state final, while the Vikings again found themselves on the outside looking in.
For the second consecutive year, Forest Grove saw its season end in extra time of the state semifinals, this time as Summit's Nathaniel Deperro netted the game-winner on the Storm's fifth and final penalty kick, allowing No. 8-ranked Summit to advance Tuesday night, Nov. 12, in front of disappointed fans at Forest Grove High School.
"We've been in a lot of penalty kick shootouts, and I don't think we've won one," Summit head coach Ron Kidder said. "So it's incredibly special to be on the winning side. It's such a terrible way to end a soccer game and it's so gut-wrenching, so right now, it's such a euphoric relief."
Deperro's relief was written all over his face as the sophomore celebrated with his teammates after the game.
"My knees were shaking," Deperro said. "I pick bottom left corner normally, but I wasn't sure because people went there every time, so it was pretty nervewracking.
"The last four years we lost in the playoffs in PKs every time, so this was a big accomplishment and change."
Despite Deperro's joy in victory, Forest Grove's agony in the wake of defeat wasn't lost on Deperro, who seemed to appreciate what the Vikings were going through.
"It sucks," he said. "It's even worse for this team, because this is how they went out last year. I completely feel for them, but they're a great team and they'll go far next year."
Vikings head coach Gracey Mosquera was obviously disappointed with the result, but he was also very proud of his team, which he believes succumbed to a difficult and deserving opponent.
"It's tough, because you're so close to the championship," the coach said. "But what a tough team. They're very physically fit, aggressive, big and they know their game, but I'm really proud of my players. They did an amazing job and we gave it our all, so there is nothing to regret."
The game was very evenly played from the get-go. Neither team seriously threatened the goal in the opening half, and it wasn't until midway through the second that things started to open up a bit. Summit had a few corner kick opportunities around the 60-minute mark, and each team narrowly missed shots inside the final 15 minutes of regulation before heading to overtime.
The Storm had a couple looks at the net early in the second overtime period, including a header off of a free kick from nearly 70 yards just two minutes in. The Vikings later had back-to-back free kick opportunities from distance and narrowly missed on what would likely have been a game-winner when Cesar Bucio's shot from 15 yards was just high. Nonetheless, there was no goal, therefore it was off to penalty kicks in an effort to decide the winner of the scoreless game.
Summit's Jace Marshall successfully opened with a make, and Forest Grove's Alejandro Sanchez followed suit. Then on the Storm's second attempt, Vikings goalie Marco Torres stoned Summit's Alex Grignon, giving Forest Grove the upper hand. That edge didn't last long, as the Vikings' Alan Rincon was shut down by Summit goal keeper Khael Engleman on the very next shot, then after three successful kicks, Engleman struck again, stopping the shot of Antonio Cipriano and setting up Deperro's deciding strike.
"It was tough, because we had the advantage in the beginning, but 20 seconds later, you are behind,' Mosquera said. "It's like you won the lottery, but then you lost the ticket."
The gravity of the win wasn't lost on Kidder. The longtime coach was clearly happy for his boys, but at the same time, he seemed to have a special level of appreciation for this year's journey.
"I'm going to enjoy this, because we've got a long bus ride home," the Summit coach said. "I've been doing this for 20 years, and I can't remember a year where we've covered this many miles. It's been an incredible journey for these boys, and they have a lot of heart and determination."
Unfortunately for the Vikings, their journey's over. But while they again fell just short of their goal of a state championship, Forest Grove standout defenseman Alejandro Sanchez was gracious in defeat, despite the emotion of another heartbreaking loss.
"We fought to the very last whistle, and I'm proud of every single one of these boys," Sanchez said. "We started off the season a little slow, but we got to where we wanted. It just came down to penalties, which are 50/50, and it didn't work out. They're a very great team, and congrats to Summit."
Mosquera echoed Sanchez' sentiments and put things in the proper perspective.
"We accomplished a lot," he said. "But there is only one out of 51 teams that gets to be champion. You can see that we are a contender, and anyone that's going to beat us is going to have to work really hard.
"I'm 100% behind my guys, and this is just the beginning."
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