Sunset goalkeeper David Villegas stood there for what seemed like an eternity. He had just rattled off his third brilliant save of the penalty kick session against Columbus and nobody moved.
The Knights were leading 3-2 in penalty kicks and the game was supposedly over. It’s just that nobody realized it. In your classic “after further review” moment, it took an extra 30 seconds before officials tallied up the score and realized the game was over prompting an awkward, delayed celebration from Sunset players.
Villegas’ outstanding play had given Sunset a 2-1 victory over Columbus in the first game of a boys soccer GMAC semifinal doubleheader at Memorial Field in Miami Beach.
And with that, the Knights (11-3-2) will shoot for their eighth overall GMAC title and second in a row on Thursday at 7 p.m. at Memorial Field against Ronald Reagan, which defeated Edison 1-0 in the second game. The loss was Columbus’ first of the season, dropping the Explorers to 15-1-3.
“I was just kind of standing there after that last save as our guy was coming up to take the next shot and was thinking, ‘Isn’t that it?’ said Villegas, who dove twice to his left to make his first two saves, and the last one, off the foot of Columbus’ Andrew Fernandez, to his right. “I read his eyes all the way and knew he was going to his left so I was ready for it.”
“To be honest, we’ve struggled all season long and Columbus probably should’ve beaten us [Tuesday],” Sunset coach Jay Flipse said.
“But David [Villegas] has been outstanding and was just as tremendous today. He’s starting to step out of his brother’s shadow and establish himself.”
Villegas’ brother Diego was Flipse’s goalkeeper when the Knights won back-to-back national championships in 2004-05.
It didn’t look like Sunset would need penalty kicks after the Knights’ Fernando Hernandez scored in the game’s 12th minute and the goal held up until just 10 minutes remained.
That’s when Villegas made his only mistake of the day, overcommiting on a deep pass down the middle that he couldn’t get to in time, and Columbus forward Pedro Van Eerdewijk got there first and knocked it in to tie the score.
And with that, Reagan advances to only its second GMAC final on Thursday against Sunset and will be looking for its first title after getting nipped by Ferguson two years ago on penalty kicks.
“A bunch of us were sophmores two years ago, and that was a tough loss for us,’’ said Garmendia, one of the senior captains.
“We’re excited to be going back to the final and want to bring home the trophy this time.”
Said Reagan coach Nando Silva: “We preach heart, discipline and a team concept around here. It’s all about trying to build a program and tradition, and that takes time. [Tuesday night] was just another stepping stone in that process.”