COLUMBIA — Rafael Ramos sat motionless in the southeast corner of the Columbia College soccer field.
The senior forward had done everything he could, but in the end it wasn't enough.
Columbia College lost 2-1 to Hannibal-LaGrange in the American Midwest Conference tournament semifinal game on Tuesday night. The Cougars finished the season 11-6-3.
"We had the group on the field that we thought was gonna get the job done," Columbia coach John Klein said. "It's disappointing."
Klein's team got off to a shaky start, allowing Hannibal to control possession and have some threatening chances early in the game.
Senior midfielder Mario Ferrero made the breakthrough for the Trojans just four minutes into the game. After receiving a pass from senior defender Mica Scaramelli on the right side of the 18-yard box, Ferrero sent a powerful shot into the upper left corner of the Cougars' goal, passing senior goalkeeper Matt McKenna.
Columbia fans fell silent, while a group of Hannibal students rushed down the sideline to celebrate with Ferrero and his teammates.
What followed was a stalemate between the Cougars and Trojans for the remainder of the first half. Both teams were able to settle in and knock the ball around, but neither could muster any quality scoring opportunities.
In the second half, Klein's group looked much different. The Cougars held the ball in their attacking half for most of the 45 minutes and continued to put pressure on Trojan junior goalkeeper Logan Miller.
Columbia's game-tying goal came in the 75th minute, from none other than Ramos. Freshman defender Dan Reilly made a streaking run down the right wing before kicking a low cross to the top of the six-yard box. Ramos rushed in and touched the ball into the lower left corner of Miller's goal.
The crowd exploded. A middle-aged man jumped out of his seat and rushed to the sideline, applauding the Cougars and urging them onward.
With the score at 1-1, Columbia continued to press forward, but the Hannibal defense stayed strong.
Then, the dagger came.
In the 88th minute, the Cougars struggled to clear the ball as it rolled around in the 18-yard box, and it ended up on the foot of Trojans' sophomore midfielder Manuel Saez.
A last ditch effort by Columbia in the final two minutes fell short. When the referee's whistle blew, nearly every Columbia player fell to the ground in disbelief.
Despite the loss, Klein was impressed by his team's effort, especially in the second half.
"I think they used a lot of their juice there to tie it up, and then I could just see them tiring," Klein said. "I'm proud that they fought for the final 30 and came back, but they just couldn't hold (Hannibal) off."
As Ramos stared at the ground in shock, Klein applauded his senior's performance, not only Monday, but all season. Klein said he was proud of his group, and he believes his returning players will have something to build on next season.
"I think we played sound soccer, but not elite. Overall, I thought it was a positive season," Klein said. "Nothing to be ashamed of."
Supervising editor is Nina Pantic.