BRADENTON -- In the dying minutes, the ball floated in the air before hovering over Antonio Colacci's head.
The Saint Stephen's senior attempted an overhead kick, but didn't connect fully as the ball went wide of the goal.
He sprawled face down on the turf at the Moore Athletic Complex at Turner Fields.
The image was indicative of just how close -- and far -- the Falcons were in Tuesday's Class 1A-Region 2 boys soccer semifinal, which visiting Naples Community School captured with a 2-1 victory.
"They make movies about stuff like that," CSN head coach Eric Miles said. "That was a great effort."
The Seahawks (17-2-2) victory propels them into Friday's regional final, while the Falcons' season ends with a 12-3-4 record.
CSN launched several shots through the playmaking of Nate Nascimento and William Crowell in the midfield and left wing positions, respectively. Eventually, they found an equalizing goal and the match winner after the Falcons took an early 1-0 lead just four minutes into the contest on a Colacci blast.
"It wasn't our best performance of the season," Saint Stephen's head coach Marc Jones said. "But, then again, in fair credit to Naples, they put a lot of pressure on us and didn't allow us to play."
Nascimento drew CSN level in first-half stoppage time on a free kick that bounced over Saint Stephen's goalkeeper Chris Morrish's head and arms.
"I think he saw it late," Jones said. "And it's just one of those things I think Chris, 99 times out of 100 will save that with his eyes closed. It happens in sports."
From there, though, the Falcons began the second half with increased pressure and held a slight shot advantage in the second half as the water break loomed. That's when the Seahawks ripped off two point-blank shots that Morrish corralled. Then the breakthrough happened with Cromell zigzagging his defensive marker in the 61st minute for the go-ahead goal.
"They were dropping off and I saw him, he wasn't in the best position to defend me so I just went side-to-side," Crowell said. "But the main thing was that my teammates got me into that goal. Without their support in spreading out the field, none of the goals would have happened."
The victory held an emotional meaning for the Seahawks and Crowell. Saint Stephen's bounced CSN from the playoffs last season. Miles said Tuesday's match had been circled on the calendar for a year. For Crowell, it meant churning out a scorching game compared to playing with a torn meniscus in last year's battle.
"I was a little bit handicapped when we played them last time, so I definitely felt like a lot of the loss was my fault," Crowell, a junior, said. "Because I couldn't play at the top of my game. And (Tuesday), I was able to do just enough."
Saint Stephen's featured two players fighting through injuries on Tuesday, though.
Forward Alex Virgilio played with a fractured right hand following a weekend injury that required surgery on Monday, Jones said. Teammate Jonathan Boyd needed a splint for his left hand after a few minutes when he ran into a CSN player going for a 50/50 ball.
Nonetheless, both players pressed through the pain. Saint Stephen's, though, had its season cut short of where it had been last year: the state semifinals. The Falcons graduate four: Morrish, Colacci, defender Evan Fruehauf and defender Matthew Israel.
Morrish collected 13 saves in his last high school game.
Jason Dill, sports writer, can be reached at 941-745-7017 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org