The Cougar boys are trying to accomplish the same feat in order to host a first-round playoff clash and they took one step closer with a 1-0 home win over Reno Saturday thanks to a late Victor Byers goal.
Spanish Springs now sits at 9-4-2, good enough for second place, and controls its own destiny heading into its final game Tuesday at home against Hug.
The Huskies and Cougars battled to a scoreless tie through the first 40 minutes of play and appeared destined to end in a scoreless draw.
Spanish Springs kept upping its attack though and sophomore Julio Soto was in the mix more often than not.
With 25 minutes to go, Irvin Somera sent a long ball ahead to Soto, who got to it on the run before the Reno defense. However, he could not get a touch on the ball before the Reno goalkeeper came out with a sliding save.
Eight minutes later, Soto nearly set up the go-ahead goal after receiving another long pass from a teammate. This time, he stopped his run and passed it over to the right side to an unmarked Matt Munley. But Munley made too many touches and allowed the keeper to close out before a shot was taken.
Reno had its own opportunity to notch the first goal of the game. The Huskies had a breakaway opportunity and the only thing stopping an easy goal was sweeper Jonathan Garcia-Cruz sprinting from behind to knock the ball away at the last second.
“Our freshman sweeper did a great job. He saved that one-on-one,” SSHS boys soccer coach Rob Moreland said. “Everybody is stepping into spots. The unselfishness is coming out.”
The Cougars went back on the attack. Soto unleashed a shot off the post and JV call-up Christian Gonzalez’s rebound attempt went wide, leaving the game scoreless with 13 minutes to go.
With just under five minutes to play, the Cougars got their much-needed goal. Two Husky defenders and one Cougar collided at the top of the 18. Victor Byers was there to clean up the loose ball and ripped a shot into the left side of the goal.
Not only did the Purple and White earn the three points for the win, but it also was tested by a very physical Reno squad, which pushed the Cougars all over the field.
“That was great. That was a Zone game right there. It was a battle,” Moreland said. “That was the hardest thing. I told them these guys were going to knock them around. I told them they just had to shut up and play.”
Reno 1, Spanish Springs 0
The girls game didn’t mean much to either team, but even with many reserves and JV call-ups on the pitch, the first-place Reno Huskies widened the gap in the standings between the second-place Spanish Springs.
The visitors took care of business and handed the Cougars a 1-0 home defeat, which was marred by a second-half injury that forced the officials to end the game early.
In a first half that featured very little action, Reno’s Shelbi Whitehead put the Huskies on the board with 18:13 left on the first-half clock.
A nearly muffed clear attempt from inside the box by the Cougars spun back to Whitehead. Whitehead set herself up for a shot and knocked in a shot with her left foot as Spanish Springs keeper Erica Lorenz didn’t come off her line to cut down the angle.
That’s how the score remained for the rest of the first half.
In the second half, the Cougars got more push on their attack, but it still didn’t lead to any goals.
But with just under 11 minutes to play, midfielder Kayla Schlitenhart fell to the ground and was kicked in the back of the neck by a Reno player. The SSHS junior stayed on the ground for 15 minutes until paramedics arrived and immobilized her spine before taking her to the hospital.
Instead of playing out the final 10:44 on the clock, the game was called.
“We were missing some players due to injury and sickness, so we went into this trying to get some people some time and do the best we could,” SSHS girls soccer coach Mike Faker said. “The first half we got beat on pretty good. The second half we were playing pretty well. We moved some players around and tried some different things that seemed to work. All my kids that came off the bench did a great job.”
Spanish Springs (7-4-4) concludes the regular season Monday at home against Hug at 5:30 p.m.