Steven Lopez

Tanner Rattlers midfielder Steven Lopez looks up the field for a pass in the 2021 AHSAA State Boys Soccer Tournament in the second round matchup against the Collinsville Panthers.

It was a tale of two halves for the Tanner Rattlers boys soccer team Friday night. The team went from being up 3-0 to falling short 4-3 in penalty kicks to the Collinsville Panthers in the second round playoff matchup at Tanner High School.

Senior midfielder Rodrigo Lagunas got the Rattlers on the board first in the eighth minute of the first half, finding the back of the net for a 1-0 Tanner lead.

Plenty of time went off the clock before another goal was scored with both teams playing solid defense.

It wasn’t until the 31st minute of the first half when Tanner striker Steven Lopez launched a pass from near midfield into the box where he found his teammate Randy Cortes for the header into the net. Less than five minutes later, midfielder Oliver Gonzalez struck one from well outside the goalie box and passed the Panther goalkeeper to take a 3-0 lead at the end of the first.

Momentum shifted toward Collinsville throughout the second half and that only seemed to increase as the clock ticked town.

The Panthers finally scored on a penalty kick in the 17th minute of the second half by Roberto Diaz. Collinsville’s Tristian Gallegos scored in the 26th minute to inch closer 3-2.

With just one minute remaining in the game and Tanner holding a 3-2 lead, Collinsville had a free kick from just outside the goalie box, which found the back of the net to tie things up at 3-3 heading into extra time.

No goals were scored in extra time, so it all came down to penalty kicks in determining who would advance one step closer to a state finals appearance, which Collinsville edged out Tanner in PK’s 4-3.

“We had a 3-0 lead, which got away on us a little bit,” Tanner head coach Matt Smith said. “We played a little timid in the second half. We let them hang around and once you get to penalty kicks, it’s 50-50.”

But Smith couldn’t be more proud of his team, especially the seniors.

“This group of seniors took us on a ride and I’m just happy to be a part of it,” Smith said. “Nehemias Vicente, Jorge Leon Tovar, Frankie Vicente, Alexander Blanco, Rodrigo Lagunas and Kevin Calderon kept up big. We had great leaders all year and that’s what got us to this point.”

While the season has come to a close for the Tanner Rattlers boys soccer team in heartbreaking defeat, Smith managed to leave the field with a confident smile.

“We’ll be back next year," he said. "I believe that."

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