Rifle Evan Muldoon thought he had the game won.
Then came the whistle no one wants to hear after scoring a goal, let alone a goal with less than 30 seconds remaining in overtime.
An offsides ruling accompanied that fateful whistle, and Muldoon's Rifle Bears settled for a 3-3 boys soccer tie with visiting Steamboat Springs on Saturday.
"I felt like I was staying pretty even. I swore I was on for the kick," said Muldoon, who took a pass from Brycen Fauser and sped ahead of the defense to set up what was nearly the winning boot.
Rifle coach Mark Knighton, though, felt a crew of makeshift officials - a Steamboat assistant coach and Rifle parents filled in for a crew that never showed up to the game - made the right call.
"That was the right call," the first-year Bears coach said. "Late though it was, it was the right call. I'm glad he buried it. Even though it didn't count, it's good to finish a play like that."
Knighton was careful not to let the game's controversial end overshadow a highlight-filled, back-and-forth tangle.
"You know, that was a fine high school game," he said. "It was good quality of play, good physical play. It was just a good high school match."
Several dead-on shots from long range and goals by twin brothers made Saturday memorable.
Each of the Sailors' two first-half scores required impressive marksmanship.
In just the 3rd minute, Kevin Bertrand rifled a shot off the crossbar and down into goal from well beyond the 18-yard box to give Steamboat a 1-0 edge.
Later in the half, it was Sam Glaisher drilling a long-range bullet into net to rally the Sailors back from a 2-1 deficit and tie the game.
And the Bears weren't without a long-range strike.
Ricardo Salgado matched a goal by twin brother Pablo 10 minutes earlier with a lofted gem from back in the right corner. Pablo's goal, while spectacular, was of layup distance. The tiny Bear headed a cross from teammate Garret Babcock off the crossbar and down over the line.
"How cool was it that both scored?" Knighton asked. "And Pablo doing a header. Here's a guy that's like 5-foot, 80 pounds. They both have great soccer skills. They're so quick. You know when you get them the ball something big's going to happen."
All that made for a 2-all first half.
Steamboat got the ball rolling in the second half when Max Marno converted a failed clear attempt into a 3-2 lead with a sharp roller from inside the box in the 11th minute.
It took nearly 12 more minutes, but Rifle did respond when a long-range hook by Scott Rust found net. A Ricardo Salgado pass from the middle out set up Rust's tying strike.
"It was a good battle for both groups," said Sailors coach Rob Bohlmann, whose team is now 0-3-1 overall and to 0-1-1 in Class 4A Western Slope League play. "We tried to be more of a threat going on goal. We made good progression from our first games to this one."
Rifle, 0-2-1 overall and 0-0-1 in the WSL, is at Battle Mountain on Tuesday while Steamboat is at home against Eagle Valley.