In a match that saw neither team create many offensive opportunities, the Railroaders were able to take advantage of a crucial penalty against Truckee and that proved to be the deciding factor of the contest.
In the 23rd minute of the first half, Sparks chipped the ball in deep toward the Wolverines goalkeeper, who misjudged the ball, allowing it to bounce high over his head. With Sparks’ Ruben Pacheco running for the ball and an empty net, Truckee’s goalkeeper blatantly ran into Pacheco, shouldering him to the ground.
A yellow card was immediately given, and Sparks’ Edgar Casillas took the honors of putting away the corresponding penalty kick in the bottom right corner of the net. That gave the Railroaders the 1-0 lead, which stood to be enough for the victory.
“We looked a little tired today,” Sparks coach Frank Avilla said. “We’ve improved, but we didn’t show all of our improvement today, and that’s what I am a little frustrated about. It’s a ‘W,’ but if we start getting satisfied with this type of ‘W,’ we’re not who we need to be.
“There was a lot of mouthing, a lot of academy-award performances, and we don’t play that way here at Sparks, and I’ll get that shored up, and the boys know that. Today we had people waiting for the plays to happen instead of being engaged with the play to make it happen. We are 13-0 and sometimes when a team wins like that, they get on the field and things get a little shaky, thinking we can just show up. That’s not our case right now. We’re not there yet, but I’m not going to let it get there.”
Sparks was able to put nine shots on net in the game, while Truckee had 12.
“To the kids’ credit, they did pull this out against Truckee, one of the best teams in our division, in the state actually,“ Avilla said. “I think they know now that we’ve arrived, and I’m proud of that fact with our boys. They’ve done well.”
The Railroaders, who moved to 13-0 overall on the season and 4-0 in league action, will look to stay undefeated when they host South Tahoe Thursday at 3 p.m.
•In the girls match, the Railroaders were unable to earn their first win of the season, falling 3-0 to Truckee.
“The defense wasn’t too bad, but our problem was in the midfield and forward positions.” Sparks coach Jerry Miller said. “It has kind of been a common problem for us, in that we’re just not in very good shape as a team. We play strong for about 20 minutes and then we run out gas, and it’s an 80-minute game.”
The Wolverines tallied goals twice in the first half, with those coming in the 22nd and 38th minutes, respectively. Truckee then added one more goal in the 60th minute, pushing the final score to 3-0.
“They’re going to have to step it up,” Miller said. “They cannot continue to consistently let down that early in the game.”
Sparks, now 0-7-1 overall and 0-4 in league play, will look to find its first victory when it hosts South Tahoe Thursday at 5 p.m.