In a match that finished with a barrage of goals in the final 13 minutes of the contest, as both sides fought to grab the state trophy, SECTA fended off the Railroaders for a 3-2 victory. The win capped off a perfect 23-0 season for the Roadrunners.
“Unfortunately we were on the down side of the score today,” Sparks coach Frank Avilla said. “I’ve been preaching all year about any given day and today just wasn’t our given day, but we’re blessed to have the given days that we’ve had. We thought we had a chance but we just couldn’t pull it off. Balls didn’t go our way today. They had physicality and we’re more of a finesse, touch team. They were very physical and very aggressive and they beat us.”
SECTA got off to a fast start as they scored the opening goal of the contest just two minutes after the game began.
From there the defenses settled in as the score stayed at 1-0 until Sparks’ Kevin Partida worked his way through a number of Roadrunner defenders and into the box before he was tripped up, drawing a penalty kick. Capitalizing on the try in the 35th minute, Partida tied the game at 1-1.
The score remained knotted up until SECTA found the back of the net in the 67th minute to retake the lead.
With the clock winding down, the Roadrunners added another goal in the 75th minute to push their advantage to 3-1.
Sparks (27-2) attempted to rally back, tallying a mark by Partida in the 77th minute to trim the margin to 3-2, but not enough time remained on the clock for the Railroaders to work any state magic.
Despite the heartbreaking end to its season, Avilla said his team had plenty of reasons to be proud of.
“I’m proud of our kids. All the credit goes to these kids. We’re the runner-ups and I think we represented the North very, very well," he said. "The boys have a bitter taste in their mouth right now, but we’re trying to keep it in perspective.
“These young men are the future of our region and our local state and I think we have our future in good hands. Our season was a very joyous one to watch and to be a part of. We’ve created a family at Sparks High. Our soccer program is a soccer family and everyone is rallying around that. As a coach, I am proud to see that and be a part of that.”