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Cougars capture North crown
by Dan Eckles
Nov 06, 2010 | 1132 views | 0 0 comments | 20 20 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune photo by John Byrne - Spanish Springs players celebrate Saturday after winning the Northern 4A boys soccer title.
Tribune photo by John Byrne - Spanish Springs players celebrate Saturday after winning the Northern 4A boys soccer title.
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RENO — Saturday's Northern 4A boys soccer championship match had all the drama any fan could want. However, it was the Spanish Springs fans that left the Damonte Ranch High School stadium elated after watching their Cougars win the first regional title in the program's 10-year history.

Spanish Springs and North Valleys battled through 80 minutes of regulation play and 30 more minutes of overtime and still wound up deadlocked at 1-1. Spanish Springs took the triumph after winning a penalty kick shootout, 6-5.

Under shootout rules, both teams select five players to take penalty kicks. Which ever team has more successful PK's after the round wins. But not even an initial round of PK's could determine a winner Saturday. Both teams made three of their five tries.

Spanish Springs goalkeeper Ivan Trujillo blocked the first two of the five North Valleys kicks. North Valleys goalkeeper Hector Mendoza kept his Panthers' dreams of victory briefly alive when he blocked the last two of the five Cougars' tries.

“It's like you've got a 50-50 chance,” Trujillo said. “It gets you pumped up to get a block, especially when the crowd is chanting your name. It's an awesome feeling.”

So, tied at 3-3 in the shootout after the round of five, Both teams got one kick apiece until a winner was determined. Each squad saw their sixth and seventh attempts hit the back of the net, before the win was decided.

Spanish Springs Reagan Chipman gave his Cougars a 6-5 shootout lead and then North Valleys' Cesar Tobar missed the Panthers' final try, firing a shot off the left post and watching it ricochet out, finally concluding the contest.

“You have to finish the game in some way,” North Valleys coach Ian Stoddard said, admitting a shootout loss is tough to take. “It was not a pretty final by any stretch of the imagination. I thought the goal we gave up was a little soft, but we got a great equalizer.

“Spanish Springs played a pretty defensive game, kind of like they were fine going to PK's. And once that happens, it could go either way. It's tough for our seniors, but we'll try to rebuild and get back here.”

The win means Spanish Springs earns the North's lone bid to state tournament play. The Cougars will play Friday in a state semifinal. State tournament play is hosted at Bettye Wilson fields at Cimarron-Memorial High School in Las Vegas.

“I thought we had the better chances late in the game. I thought their guys kind of ran out of gas. This is crazy,” Moreland said. “We're going to Vegas next Thursday. That's crazy.”

It didn't take Spanish Springs much time to light up its half of the scoreboard. Seven minutes after the opening kick, the Cougars took a 1-0 lead. Midfielder Irvin Somera, the Cougars junior captain, tallied the score.

“We wanted to finish, get ahead and keep the game going," Somera said. “We did well. I never thought we'd get this far, but we've made it.”

North Valleys knotted the match at 1-1 in the 28th minute thanks to a goal by Alex Martinez.

Either team could have ended the match in the first overtime.

A higher force may have been looking out for Spanish Springs in one sequence. A minute into the extra session, North Valleys got a shot off from point-blank range in the Spanish Springs defensive box. The ball glanced off Trujillo's fingers off the crossbar of the goal and back into play where a North Valleys follow-up header attempt sneaked just high over the crossbar.

“I couldn't tell if that went in or not,” Stoddard said. “I would have loved to have seen us capitalize, but that's the way the ball bounces. Sometimes it doesn't go your way.”

Seven minutes later, midway through the first overtime, Spanish Springs got an open look on a low-rolling through ball into the North Valleys defensive box. Unfortunately for Spanish Springs, its shot was just wide of the net, keeping the 1-1 tie intact.

“They had their chances. We had our chances,” Moreland said. “It was a physical match, but not dirty. They boys played hard. Our defense played really well and kept it tight.”

Spanish Springs improves to 12-4-3 on its fall campaign while North Valleys finishes its season 15-2-2.
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