At the final whistle, the members of the Quartz Hill High boys' soccer team stood motionless, unable to move and unwilling to comprehend.
After 80 minutes of physical play, one successful comeback and a flurry of last-minute attempts to pull off another one, the Rebels succumbed to Notre Dame, 2-1, Friday in a first-round Division III Southern Section playoff game.
The last strands of desperation turned to despair.
Quartz Hill midfielder Mario Gamboa simply lay in the center of the field, forcing himself to his feet only to avoid being trampled during the postgame handshakes.
Even Rebel Coach Mike Kuper was shaking his head at Notre Dame (13-7-1) having escaped to the second round, where it will play again Tuesday.
"I had confidence until the whistle blew that we were gonna tie it up," he said.
So did his team. Quartz Hill (17-3-2), which tied the match, 1-1, before falling behind again, had its opportunities to even the score after Notre Dame went ahead with 10 minutes to play on a goal by Andres Padilla.
But forward Matt Matalon's strong shot from the right wing was deflected wide by Notre Dame goalie Juan Plascencia. Seconds later, a header from Matalon sailed over the net. A cross from forward Rashaad Greenwood found no receiver. And one final push up the middle of the box by burly forward Jeff Diamond was smothered by Plascencia.
"We're quite used to that," Notre Dame forward Steve Lee said nonchalantly of the Rebels' final push. His team, after all, had to face the likes of powerful Loyola and St. Francis in the Mission League this season.
Lee, playing with a sore hamstring, opened the scoring with a low shot into the left side of the goal midway through the first half.
The Knights controlled the ball for the most of the first half and the first 10 minutes of the second half.
"Hey, have you guys beat them to a ball yet?" one sarcastic Quartz Hill fan asked early in the second half.
As if in response, Matalon beat a defender down the right side of the field and sent a cross to Greenwood, who put a shot past a diving Plascencia.
Consider the momentum swung, until Quartz Hill sweeper Brian Pivnik was unable to clear a ball and Lee found Padilla for the game-winning goal.
On paper, it was an upset, the No. 3 Mission League team defeating the Golden League champion. But Notre Dame Coach Colm McFeely didn't see it that way.
"This was one of our poorest performances," he said.