Spanish Springs captured a regional title after winning last fall’s Northern 4A title tilt in a shootout, but North Valleys won the first rematch of the High Desert League rivals, taking a 2-1 triumph on its home field in boys prep soccer action.
“That’s a quality win against a quality opponent,” North Valleys coach Ian Stoddard said. “After waiting 10 months to get another crack at them, a win feels great.
“I thought we handled the ball a little bit better and found our wings. we challenged the 50-50 balls. And then playing a man down for the final 25 minutes or so, I thought we held on.”
North Valleys (5-0-1), which saw a player ejected with just over 23 minutes remaining in the match and was forced to go with 10 players the rest of the way, took over the High Desert League lead with Wednesday’s win and handed Spanish Springs (5-1) its first loss of the season in the process.
Spanish Springs coach Rob Moreland said his team’s lack of mental focus hurt it all night.
“We can’t keep our heads,” he said. “And if you can’t do that, why play? If you play that way in a big game, you’ll lose. Our guys just want to talk and if we don’t figure it out, we won’t go very far. Our guys were complaining too much so they weren’t doing their job.”
Spanish Springs did take an early lead Wednesday. The Cougars got on the the scoreboard first when Julio Soto scored on an assist from Marshall Andrew at the 20-minute mark.
The 1-0 edge did not stand up long. North Valleys knotted the score at one apiece when Alex Martinez scored in the 32nd minute.
The 1-1 score was intact into halftime, but just four minutes into the second half, North Valleys got its go-ahead goal. Humberto Chavez handled those scoring honors with his game-winner in the 44th minute.
Frustrated with his squad’s inability to keep its cool under pressure, Moreland played reserves for a key 15-minute stretch of the second half. He returned his scoring leaders to the field for the final 12 minutes. Spanish Springs put plenty of offensive pressure on its hosts through the corresponding stretch of play, but it could not tally an equalizer.
“North Valleys did a good job of killing off those final minutes,” Moreland said. “The monkey is off our back now. There’s no going undefeated. And I’m glad. That undefeated talk turns me off. I’d much rather lose a couple throughout the year and play best later, win at the end.
“We’ll meet North Valleys again. They’re a good team. They bring out the best and the worst in us. We’ve got to control the worst.”
Spanish Springs will look to bounce back from its first defeat when it returns to the soccer pitch for a 5:30 p.m. match Friday against Reno at home.