More than a month later, the two teams met again, at SHS Friday afternoon. The second time around it was Sparks managing a goal and capturing a key 1-0 win in a conference clash.
"This match was exactly what we expected, a dogfight," Sparks coach Frank Avilla said. "Truckee is a well-disciplined, good team. They bring out the best in us. It was a physical match but within the boundaries of fair play. It was a match that could've gone either way.
"To be a good team, you have to be able to play physical. We prepare and work to play physical matches every day."
The pivotal triumph lifed Sparks (14-1, 13-1 DI-A North) over Truckee (16-1-1, 13-1-1) in the league standings and means the Railroaders will earn the conference's top postseason seed, assuming they can win their final two league matches, at South Tahoe Tuesday and at home against Fallon Thursday.
Sparks found the back of the net for the match's only goal Friday when freshman Jesus Partida headed a ball over an approaching Truckee goalkeeper and into the net. Jose Mendoza provided the assist on the 36th minute goal.
"Ruben (Pacheco) took a shot and Truckee cleared it," Partida said. "But Bauser (Jose Mendoza) hit a long ball that bounced one time in front of the Truckee goal. Their goalkeeper was coming out. I beat him to it and just chipped it over him."
The hosts thought they extended their edge to 2-0 two minutes later. Ruben Pacheco fired a shot past the Truckee goalkeeper and into the net in the 38th minute but officials waved it off, calling Pacheco off sides.
Not long after, the long-time league rivals walked into the halftime break with the 1-0 score intact. Both teams had plenty of opportunities to change the score. Sparks got off 33 shots to Truckee's 17, but the visiting Wolverines had more than a few realistic chances to grab at least a tie.
In the 70th minute, a Truckee forward elevated above the pack on a corner kick and headed the ball toward the Sparks goal, but SHS goalkeeper Ronaldo Hernandez, came seemingly out of nowhere to wrap up the ball and thwart a potential Truckee tying goal.
In the 76th minute, Truckee got a through ball down the middle that Hernandez narrowly beat a Truckee pursuer to in the open field, saving a shot on an open Railroaders goal.
Hernandez finished with nine saves and many of them seemed to be of the spectacular variety.
"It could've gone either way," Wolverines coach Casey Eberhardt said. "Toward the end, we had our chances. It's always going to be tough against Sparks. You can't ever take them lightly."
Sparks got a chance to add an insurance goal in the 79th minute. Partida got behind the Truckee defense and had an open look at a breakaway 1-on-1 with the Wolverines goalie. However, in his haste and excitement he drilled a rocket shot over the crossbar of the THS goal from 40 yards out.
"We had our opportunities out there, just like last time," Avilla said. "Our boys played a little tight early, but that's to be expected sometimes in big games. We got better as the game wore on ... We have good pride here. When our boys step on the field, they're ready to play. Matches like this bring out the best in our players."
The traditionally tough squads finished their regular season home-and-away series Friday, but they may not be through seeing each other. It wouldn't be much of a surprise if the two schools squared off again in the postseason, in the DI-A North title game early next month.
"With this win, Sparks goes ahead of us," Eberhardt said. "We'll see how the rest of the league plays out, but they'll probably be the No. 1 seed and we'll be the No. 2,. If we both take care of business, I have no doubt we'll see each other again."