For 120 minutes, including two overtimes, the soccer teams of the Great Britain and Chilean embassies went back and forth on the John F. Kennedy Memorial Field, with neither team able to put the ball into the net.
The match finally came down to a shootout, and the Chileans won the shootout, 3-2, to defeat the British, 1-0, and advance to the final of the fourth annual Bank of Washington Embassy Cup.
In the second game, the defending champions from the Nigerian embassy, behind goals by Toni Amayo, Oriake Sevanos and Friday Johnson defeated Bolivia, 3-1. The final will take place next Saturday at the Kennedy field at 10 a.m.
"It's a shame that after 120 minutes, the game has to end in a shootout," said midfielder David Hogan of the British embassy. "We had the opportunities in the second overtime, but we just could not put the ball in the net."
The fast-paced, physical contest was a classic example of attack-counterattack, and it left both teams exhausted.
The Chilean embassy kept the pressure on British goalie Neil Cowley throughout the game. Cowley, who made 18 saves, made one diving save after another and often came out of the goal area to clear the ball from Chilean forwards who had broken through Britain's defense.
Cowley and the British team had a little luck during the game, when four shots, two by forward Mauricio Rodriquez, deflected off the crossbar and either went out of play, or to a waiting British player.
Although the British forwards did keep the pressure on the Chilean defenders as they brought the ball past midfield, they were not able to muster much offense as they managed only 10 shots on goal during regulation and four in the overtime periods.
"They played an all-around excellent game," said British forward Bruce Craig, a research chemist for the U.S. Department of the Navy. "This is the second year that we lost to Chile in the semifinals. It hurts to get this far in the tournament and then lose in a shootout."
Both teams were hampered throughout the game as tripping violations frequently appeared to be missed by the referee. The British team was also hurt twice when the referee made offside calls when it had clear breakaways.
"Even though we were hurt by the referees, you cannot blame the loss on them," said Hogan, the assistant information officer at the British embassy. "In soccer, you have to expect a physical game, and it comes down to the fact that we simply could not put the ball past their goaltender."