The Railroaders improved to 17-0 overall and 7-0 in Northern 3A SL tilts. The local club has completed the first go-round of league play and has five league matches left as it tries to lock up a top playoff seed.
Tuesday’s triumph came after a 12-day layoff for the SHS squad. The two teams battled past the midway point of the first half before anyone found the back of the net.
“After a week layoff, you never know what you’ll get,” Sparks coach Frank Avilla said. “We started off a little slow but that’s to be expected. We did a good job playing within ourselves. In the beginning, we tried to get a little too fancy, but then we kept it simple and had more success.”
Sparks scored its first goal of the match 24 minutes after the opening kick. That came when Ruben Pacheco tallied a goal on an assist from Roger Garcia.
That offense seemed to get Sparks going. The Railroaders extended their edge to 2-0 just 40 seconds later. That came when Kevin Partida scored an unassisted goal.
Then, in the 36th minute, Partida tacked on another unassisted goal. It didn’t take long for Sparks to make the margin 4-0. At the 37-minute mark, Hector Hernandez collected an unassisted goal for Sparks as well.
The 4-0 gap stayed intact into halftime and much of the second half. Hernandez wrapped up the match scoring when he posted a goal in the 72nd minute. Partida contributed the final assist.
The host Railroaders dominated play, getting off 21 shots to North Tahoe’s 4. Sparks goalkeeper Mitchell Garcia finished with four assists.
“We controlled the match today, but we can still do better with our accuracy shooting,” Partida said. “Sometimes those misses come back to haunt you.
“We practice like we play and that helps us do well in our games. We challenge each other all the time in practice. We even build little rivalries, so in games we don’t lose.”
Sparks is in action again Friday afternoon when it goes to Dayton for a 3 p.m. conference clash against the Dust Devils.
“We’ve got good touch. We play well to space,” Avilla said. “I’m giddy right now. I’m not naive enough to think it can’t go south, but if these kids continue to work hard, the sky is the limit.”
At Sparks, the SHS girls picked up the first win of the season, downing North Tahoe 3-2. The Railroaders had come up on the short end of a 2-1 decision at North Tahoe in the previous meeting between the two teams last month.
North Tahoe scored first when Sammi Schulte put up a goal in the sixth minute. Sparks knotted the score at a goal apiece with a Zara Lara header in the 12th minute. Maria Sanchez tallied the assist.
North Tahoe answered in the 17th minute with a goal by Emily Piper. That 2-1 score remained into the halftime break.
The hosts dominated play in the second half. The Railroaders posted the only two goals after the break and captured the comeback win.
At the 47-minute mark, Andrea Gumina took a Sanchez assist and scored to deadlock the match at 2-2. Sparks got the go-ahead goal in the 61st minute. Gabby Hernandez scored on a header, thanks to the third assist on the day by Sanchez.
“We got two header for goals today and we haven’t had one in the four years I’ve been here,” Sparks coach Jerry Miller said. “We’ve been working on it.
“Our play today was a little surprising. We didn’t play at all last week. I was hoping to be healthy, but we had three starters out sick so we had to patch together a starting lineup and some of those players really stepped up ... We had a lot more pressure up top. We shortened the field some and pushed our defenders up with a little more speed. We were pretty aggressive.”
The Sparks girls (1-8-2 overall, 1-5-1 SL) play at Dayton at 5 p.m. Friday.