Only in tournaments like these does more than 100 minutes of soccer boil down to 1 1/2 inches.
That was the margin of victory for 5A Division II stalwart Goodyear Millennium in a 1-1 (4-3 edge in penalty kicks) game against Chandler Hamilton on Saturday in the Dobson Mustang Classic championship match.
The width of a soccer ball hitting the crossbar was the difference between Millennium sprinting around the Mesa Dobson High School field and Huskies goalie J.D. Zehring left on one end with his head buried in his hands.
Those same hands helped the Huskies to an early advantage in the penalty kicks, when he made the first save of the shootout.
The teams traded penalty-kick goals until Zehring, the fifth and final participant.
Trailing 4-3, the Huskies could have forced sudden-death penalty kicks, but Zehring's boot hit square on the middle of the crossbar and bounced away.
"That's the odd thing about soccer," Huskies coach Nick Markette said. "You can create that many chances for yourself and still lose."
Millennium got on the board late in the first half on a breakaway, but Michael Markette tied the score with 15 1/2 minutes left off a corner kick. Millennium appeared to be in good shape to deflect the kick away, but the ball hit the back of a Tigers defender and bounced forward into the net.
With two minutes left, Hamilton's Kerel Bradford nearly went end-to-end with the ball, but the speedy and skilled forward couldn't get a shot off when he reached the goalie box, and the teams played two 10-minute overtimes. Neither side allowed the opposition any significant chances.
Despite missing a penalty kick, Bradford and forward Tanner Clay both played well for the Huskies (11-2), who host Gilbert on Tuesday.
The Huskies gave themselves plenty of chances to win outright in regulation with 11 shots on goal, but they went wide or punched up and over the net in front.
Still, the Huskies have 4-0 start in power-point matches, and the unlikelihood of the team's two captains missing penalty kicks again feels remote enough that the Huskies aren't concerned going forward.
"We could have one of those (opportunities) go our way, but they battled and stuck with the plan and fought it out," Markette said. "I'm not at all disappointed with the effort.
"We have no easy games left. The real stuff is about to start."