They took the first step Thursday, rolling over a visiting South Tahoe squad, 6-1.
“They came out with vengeance and proved they were a better team than what Truckee fans and the Truckee team saw last week,” Sparks boys soccer coach Frank Avilla said. “It’s been no secret, when we play together as a team, we’re hard to beat. That’s not arrogance. It’s just what I’ve seen out here. Teams match up well against us. But when we don’t panic and play as a team, these young men are a very good team.”
In the first 10 minutes, Sparks missed a shot from point-blank range and on a breakaway, but it wouldn’t take long for the home team to find its mark thanks to a showcase by talented midfielder Kevin Partida.
A minute after Partida showed off some sweet moves and had a rocket shot kick saved by the Vikings’ keeper, Partida got another chance at the tie-breaking goal when he skied above everyone around him and headed in a corner kick from Ruben Pacheco in the 17th minute.
Two minutes later, Cesar Abundz sent a cross to the middle of the field and Hector Hernandez deflected it in for a 2-0 lead.
A turnover in the back gave the Vikings an easy goal in the 24th minute, but then Sparks got right back to work.
South Tahoe picked up a yellow card in the box on a corner kick. Alvaro Medina buried the ensuing penalty kick into the left side of the goal in the 28th minute.
With six minutes remaining before the break, Partida juked free of defenders and ripped a shot along the ground that deflected off a leg and went into the goal, handing Sparks a 4-1 halftime edge.
Four minutes into the second half, Partida completed his hat trick with a breakaway goal.
Partida added one for good measure in the 64th minute. South Tahoe’s keeper had no chance as Partida exhibited some fancy footwork you don’t normally see on the high school pitch, basically walking the ball across the goal line for the final 6-1 margin.
“That’s specialized training. It’s no secret Kevin plays at a high level of soccer,” Avilla said. “We have many good soccer players here. This year Kevin has led by example. Today, he’s starting to become the true leader he is on the soccer pitch.”
Sparks (21-1, 14-1) is back in action next week at Incline and Whittell.
South Tahoe 4, Sparks 0
The Sparks girls opened the action on the pitch at SHS Thursday afternoon and put up a decent fight against a team that is expected to compete for a state championship, but South Tahoe was still too tough, claiming a 4-0 victory.
It was the Railroaders’ last game that counted toward the playoffs, and Sparks will not be postseason bound after forfeiting its wins and ties from earlier this season due to unknowingly playing ineligible athletes.
Still, all was not lost on Senior Day.
“The seniors played well together,” Sparks girls soccer coach Jerry Miller said. “We played hard the whole game. I thought Norma Robles played a strong game at midfielder and forward. It doesn’t matter where we play her. She plays hurt every game. Andrea Gumina, our leading scorer, played well. We actually had four shots at halftime. Usually we only have one for the game (against South Tahoe). Even their coach said to remind him about (Robles and Gumina) when it’s all-league time.”
Val Guerrero and Teresita Espana each gave up a pair of goals to the Vikings, but Miller said most of it wasn’t their fault.
Sparks will close out the season next week on the road at Incline and Whittell.
In what has turned into a little undesired tradition, the Reed girls soccer team celebrated Senior Night with a lackluster performance.
Vanessa Arzaluz’s goal in the 28th minute off an assist by Devin Switzer was the only offense in the game.
“It was just the typical, slow Senior Night. There’s too much anxiety. There’s too much excitement,” Reed girls soccer coach Jason Saville said. “It is what it is. I can’t think of a Senior Night where we didn’t play down or slow. It’s just one of those nights where you need to grind it out and hope the result is going to go your way. We had a ton of opportunities. We just didn’t convert a lot of the opportunities we had.”
Reed (8-5-2) will close out the regular season at cross-town rival Spanish Springs Monday. Kickoff is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.