ROHNERT PARK — Ten minutes away from their first section championship in any sport in school history, the Roseland University Prep boys soccer team could see the light at the end of the tunnel, the championship in reach with a 1-0 lead.
Unfortunately, Gateway High of San Francisco had other plans.
Gateway scored once late in the second half to send it to extra time, where in the third minute of the second sudden-death period, Robin Shapiro hit the game-winning goal to give the Gators a 2-1 win and the North Coast Section Division 1 championship at Rancho Cotate High School Saturday night.
Fog began enveloping the field as the game progressed and the Knights (18-3) had the slim advantage with time chipping away in the second half of regulation. Brian Cruz had put Roseland up 1-0 after a shot toward the net went through the legs of Gateway’s goalie and into the net in the fourth minute of the second half.
“We were fortunate to get a goal off the mistake,” Roseland coach Tino Fonzeca said. “We were up 1-0 with 10 minutes to play and they countered with the ball over the top, and put it in the net.”
Gateway’s Patrice Boullianne, a speedy sophomore, charged down the right sideline towardsRoseland’s net and scored to tie the game, which eventually went to the extra frames.
Fonzeca said the Knights played with five defenders toward their net, which made attacking tough.
“We tried to unlock that safe and we couldn’t do it,” he said.
In the first few minutes of the first extra frame, Fonzeca said it appeared Gateway had more opportunities at the net — but in the last 3-4 minutes, the Knights had their chances at the game winner.
The opening minutes of the second extra frame saw the Gators (16-8-2) charge toward the Roseland net, resulting in Shapiro’s goal to win the title for Gateway.
“They got a ball on top of the box, and it took a deflection and went in,” Fonzeca said.
The loss in the title game snaps an 18-game win streak for Roseland University Prep dating back to August.
The Knights has edged out one-goal victories against Arcata in the quarterfinal round and No. 1-seed Fortuna in a semifinal game to reach the championship game.
The school also reached the NCS championship in 2012, losing a 2-0 match to Marin Academy at Redwood High School in Larkspur.
Fonzeca said it’s the first time Roseland University Prep has been able to play a title game in its local area.
The team will lose nine seniors but started five freshmen this year, and is looking ahead, the coach said.
He isn’t sure if the school will stay in fall soccer competition or possibly move to the winter.
“We’ll be hungry for next year,” he said.
Gateway coach Brian McIntosh was in disbelief at the result.
“We’ve never been past the round of eight,” he said.
McIntosh credited his team’s philosophy of buying into the team system and several close victories in the postseason for its championship run.
The Gators defeated Urban 2-1 in the quarterfinal round, a team that beat them 8-1 in late October. Gateway then upset second-seeded Stuart Hall 1-0 in a semifinal game.