Irvine Valley's men's soccer team had chance after chance on Tuesday in its biggest match of the season so far at Golden West.
But the Lasers' only finish came on a penalty kick midway through the first half in what turned out to be a 1-1 tie with the Rustlers.
The match was for first place in the Orange Empire Conference.
Golden West, ranked fifth in the state, held on to first with the draw, improving its record to 12-0-7 overall and 8-0-5 in conference.
No. 14 Irvine Valley saw its record move to 13-4-3 overall and 8-2-3 in conference.
Three points are awarded for a win and that is what Irvine Valley was looking for. A victory would have put IVC in first place with one match to go.
Now, Golden West has 29 points, Santa Ana has 28 points and Irvine Valley has 27 points.
Golden West plays Orange Coast on Thursday, while Irvine Valley takes on Norco at home at 3 p.m. Santa Ana finished its regular season on Tuesday.
"We did everything today, but win," Irvine Valley coach Martin McGrogan said. "We had loads of chances and didn't score. That is our fault.
"We played well enough to win and I thought we defended really well. That is the way it goes in soccer sometimes."
Irvine Valley took a 1-0 lead in the 28th minute. Freshman defender Alfonso Quezada-Osorno was taken down in the box and freshman forward Daniel Segal stepped to the penalty spot and scored on a shot to the lower left corner.
Two minutes later, the Lasers nearly increased their lead. With the goalie out sophomore Sean Goode's shot just went over the crossbar.
Sophomore midfielder Jose Rivera had a hard shot saved by Golden West keeper Josue Catarino in the 39th minute, sophomore midfielder Jose Gamboa just missed on another opportunity in the 41st minute and in the 43rd minute sophomore midfielder Albert Chavez hit the post with a shot.
IVC's best chance in the second half came in the 73rd minute when Goode's header off a cross from Rivera sailed wide of the net.
Golden West tied the score in the 78th minute after Ivan Pineda was fouled in the box.
Pineda made his penalty kick to the lower left corner.
Both teams tried to pressure for the game-winner, but couldn't find the back of the net.
Irvine Valley freshman keeper Blake Sigler ended up making six saves in the contest.