For 90 minutes, the Nevada Wonders were every bit as good as the playoff-bound Fresno Fuego.
Locked in a 1-all tie at the end of regulation play, the Wonders yielded goals to Amaury Nunes and Salvador Pinto in a span of three minutes in the second 10-minute overtime period, dropping a season-ending 3-1 United Soccer League decision Saturday night at Carson High School.
The Wonders finished the season 5-13, including back-to-back losses to Fresno. The teams met Thursday night and Fresno walked away with a 2-0 victory in Fresno. Fresno finished 10-6-1 and will meet Orange County in the first round of the playoffs next Saturday.
It was the same old story for the Wonders, who played without Audren Cashman, Sam Brown, Dan Perez, Lance Pimentel, Marvin Sorto and David Martin.
Despite playing short-handed and having no subs, the Wonders battled and battled.
"I thought our effort was superb," said midfielder Ben Callon, who filled in as coach in the absence of Paul Aigbogun. "We had a couple of guys seeing their first game tonight. Jeremiah Harris came up and played (from the U-18 squad). You couldn't ask for anymore."
"It was one of those games that didn't seem like the last one of the season," said Fresno coach Jaime Ramirez. "Both teams wanted to finish the season with a sense of respectability. I thought we had the better of the play throughout. They scored a brilliant goal, though."
Ramirez was referring to the goal by Jordan Keyes, which came eight minutes after Fresno's Nehemias Blanco had given his team a 1-0 lead. Blanco corralled a loose ball, and when Nevada goalie Dan Benton came out, Blanco tapped it past him.
The game-tying goal came when Callon was fouled. The Wonders' star sent a hard cross into the penalty box area. Keyes leaped and headed the ball past Fresno goalie Nick Hammond.
"We crossed the ball into a dangerous area (lot of traffic) and Jordan headed it in," Callon said. "We needed a few more chances like that during the game."
Indeed. The Wonders were outshot 7-4 in the final 45 minutes of regulation. The best Nevada chance in that span was in the 86th minute when Harris' shot was blocked by a Fresno defender.
The first overtime was uneventful, as there were only a couple of good scoring opportunities.
Fresno forged ahead in the 101st minute on a fluke goal. Fresno had a corner kick, and the kick landed untouched, and Nunes was there to punch it in.
"I think the goalkeeper came up to the near post," Ramirez said. "Then it looked like he missed it. Amaury came in with his chest and punched it in. The goalkeeper had done a good job all night (grabbing those corner kicks)."
That seemed to deflate the Wonders, who yielded a goal to Pinto three minutes later.
"The win was important," Ramirez said. "It gives us good momentum going into the playoffs. It doesn't matter who you are playing."