From the moment Las Vegas started taking warm-up shots before Friday's state semifinal game at Damonte Ranch, Douglas High coach Milko Vasquez knew there was one overriding mission for his defense.
"I saw them start taking shots and I told our guys, you can not allow a frontal shot against these guys," Vasquez said. "You allow a frontal shot and it'll be trouble."
For 79 minutes, the Tiger defense rose to the occasion against a talented, fast, widespread and overbearing Las Vegas attack.
But it was the final shot that made all the difference.
Las Vegas standout forward Joaquin Rivas sent a rocket of a shot from 15 yards out that glanced off of Douglas keeper Ivan Gonzalez's fingers and into the back of the net in the 79th minute of the game, giving the Wildcats a 1-0 victory and ending the Tigers' season.
"You could tell, just with the way the play was setting up, that it was going to be trouble," Vasquez said. "Ivan got his hand on it, but with a shot like that, what can you really do?"
Vegas outshot the Tigers 13-6 in the game and 9-1 in the second half, but the Tiger defense ensured that most of those shots came from outside the penalty box at poor angles.
Gonzalez had a incredible game in net, hauling in nine saves ‹ a number of which were highlight reel quality.
His best interchange came in the 50th minute, making a diving stop on a shot from 15 yards out and then recovering to stop the sharp rebound off Rivas' foot.
The Tiger defense, including Brian Randall, Tyler Bankofier, Gavin Fitzhugh, Edgar Gonzalez and Troy Cohee, did a commendable job against the potent Wildcat offense.
Offensively, Douglas' best chances came late in both halves.
One of the best chances of the game came with just under two minutes left in the first half when Keegan Rahe crossed a pass in front for Cole Cline, but Vegas' keeper broke the play up before a shot could materialize.
The Tigers also had a couple of nice breakaways late in the second half but the Wildcats didn't allow any solid shots to result.
"We had a chance there at the end, but we didn't capitalize," Vasquez said. "They did.
"You can't ask for anything more. The kids finished how they are supposed to finish. They left everything on the field.
"These boys showed character. I don't think it has hit them yet how well they played to get here. They were one game away from the state finals. They played like they wanted it. Everyone played well, everyone stepped it up.
Everyone was challenging the ball and pressuring the ball. Good things were happening, it just didn't go our way."
Douglas finished its season 13-9-3 overall.