Sparks had the chance to put rubbing cream on last year’s loss to SECTA in the state title game, drawing the Roadrunners in Friday’s state semifinal. But instead, SECTA ripped the Railroaders’ 2012 scab off, leaving an even darker, more painful 2013 scar.
After neither team found the back of the net in regulation, or in either 15-minute overtime period, SECTA downed Sparks, 4-2, in penalty kicks to put the Railroaders' season to bed for a second straight season.
“Hey, we had our chances,” Sparks coach Frank Avilla said. “You go to two golden-goal overtimes, we still don’t get it in. Then you go to PK’s (penalty kicks). We have practiced them. Unfortunately, we were on the wrong side of it today.”
Sparks finished the season 17-4-1 while SECTA improved to 19-5-3 and advanced to Saturday’s state title match at Dayton.
In the 55th minute, Sparks’ Jose Mendoza possessed a loose ball from 15 yards out and hit a one time laser square off the cross bar. The ball bounced directly back into the box before SECTA cleared it.
“That’s just the way the ball bounced today,” Avilla said.
Cesar Arroyo provided the defensive play of the game in the 69th minute to keep the game scoreless. Keeper Ronaldo Hernandez was beat on a one-on-one at the top of the box and the ball jettisoned towards the net.
Arroyo chased the ball down and directed it out of bounds a second before he collided with the goal.
In the first half, Sparks outshot SECTA 15-6 only to be outshot 20-13 in the second half and both overtimes.
Avilla did not believe the Roadrunners made any strategic adjustments, but rather said his team may have played complacently.
Sparks settled for a tie in its league finale at South Tahoe, and then lost to Truckee in the regional final, before seeing its season come to a close Saturday.
Both teams connected on their first two penalty kicks after the overtimes before SECTA’s Michael Henry blocked Sparks’ third and fourth attempts to end the game.