There were so many things working against Juan Pabon-Gomez and the West Springfield boys' soccer team.
The Spartans trailed Clover Hill in Friday's Virginia AAA boys' soccer semifinal. The sky was dark enough to make it appear that if the clock didn't end West Springfield's season, the weather probably would.
That's when Pabon-Gomez rallied the Spartans, tying the game with a goal in the 72nd minute and converting a penalty kick in the fifth minute of overtime to lead West Springfield to a stunning 4-3 win.
Northern Region champion West Springfield (19-1) advanced to the state title game for the third time in four years, and faces Northern Region runner-up Langley in the 8 p.m. clash.
In a match that started two hours late and ended after midnight, Langley defeated Thomas Dale in penalty kicks, 5-4, after playing to a 1-1 draw.
The Saxons (14-4-1) ensured that Saturday's final would be an all-Northern Region affair at approximately 12:20 a.m. when Brysen Kreighbaun buried his shot in the sixth round of penalty kicks.
Langley, which needed to win a shootout against Lake Braddock to qualify for the state tournament, joins the West Springfield boys' team as well as W.T. Woodson and Centreville in the girls' final.
"We're as lucky at the girls at Woodson, I guess," Langley Coach Bob Murray said, referring to W.T. Woodson's shootout wins earlier in the day as well as the regional semifinal. Langley's players "got there. They get to go to the state final, that's what they've wanted the whole time."
Eric Fisher scored Langley's goal in the 47th minute to tie the score at 1.
In the first semifinal, Pabon-Gomez's penalty kick didn't come without some controversy.
Five minutes into overtime, West Springfield junior forward Nick Wagonhurst darted behind the Clover Hill defense and was taken down from behind as he shot wide of the goal. The center referee signaled for a Clover Hill goal kick, but was called over by an assistant referee. After the conversation, during which the assistant referee presumably explained that he had seen a Clover Hill player foul Wagonhurst, the center referee called for a penalty kick.
Clover Hill players and their coach reacted angrily, with the coach coming more than 40 yards from his bench onto the field pleading his case.
"It's tough, a [penalty kick] in the semifinals [with] the score tied" in overtime, said Pabon-Gomez, who had a goal and two assists in West Springfield's quarterfinal win over First Colonial. "He called it and it actually was a P.K. There's nothing we can do."
The explosive finish came after a first half full of scoring. The teams combined to score four goals in an eight-minute stretch, and Clover Hill (18-2-2) led 3-2 at halftime.
An inspired Pabon-Gomez tied the game at 3 in the 72nd minute with a low drive to the right corner.