At Mesquite, Sparks and Truckee battled through 80 minutes of regulation before Sparks scored five minutes into the first overtime to steal the 1-0 victory. Sparks will now meet Northern 3A Sierra League rival South Tahoe in the 3A state championship match today at 10 a.m.
Five minutes into the sudden-death overtime period, Sparks forward Kevin Partida sent a centering pass to teammate Marco Pintor, who took the pass and buried a shot into the Truckee net for the lone and game-winning goal.
“Kevin Partida had been battling all game,” Sparks coach Frank Avilla said. “He came through and centered that ball really well. Marco was in the space and he put it in. He missed some shots during the game but that one rang true and we ended up winning 1-0.”
Sparks won largely due to its stellar defensive effort. The Railroaders limited the Wolverines to 11 shots while getting off 18 themselves. SHS goalkeeper Javier Torres racked up eight saves.
“Anytime you get a shutout against one of the Lake schools, it’s a good thing,” Avilla said. “To have a defense like we have is great. Hopefully, we get that kind of effort again tomorrow.”
Avilla liked most of what he saw in the postseason affair.
“We communicated. We made a lot of good touches and didn’t cower to them physically,” the Railroaders coach said. “We probably missed five good chances to score during the game when we shot wide or over. That was a little frustrating, but we believed in ourselves. You can see the light in these kids’ eyes and the determination.”
•At the Bettye Wilson fields, adjacent to Cimarron Memorial High School in Las Vegas, Sunset Region champion Legacy proved too much for Northern 4A champion Spanish Springs. Legacy’s 2-0 win over Spanish Springs snapped the Sparks school’s three-match playoff win streak.
“They knocked the ball around well,” Spanish Springs coach Rob Moreland said. “They’re very fast. They talk well. They had good players. They broke us down, but our guys played with them most of the game.
“It was a pretty good game. In the first 10 minutes they looked on their heals a little bit. Give them credit. We made a couple mistakes and that’s how they scored.”
Legacy got its first goal at the 20-minute mark and then tacked on an insurance score in the 65th minute.
Spanish Springs lost its senior goalkeeper Ivan Trujillo 15 minutes into the match but his younger brother, freshman Omar Trujillo, came on in relief and helped the Cougars stay in contention, Moreland said.
The third-year Cougars coach said his team had its best chance to score in the closing minutes of the first half, but could not convert on an open net. The potential score would have deadlocked the match at 1-1 by halftime, but it was not meant to be.
Spanish Springs ends its season 12-5-3. The Cougars will lose 11 players to graduation, but still return a talented young core, including a handful of all-league players in key positions.
“This (trip to state) was good for us to see and learn for next year, to see what it’s all about. We saw the highest level. We know what we’ll be shooting for,” Moreland said. “We had an excellent year. These kids overachieved big time. They came through at the right time. We just came up a little short today.”