Just seconds after the opening kick, Sparks tallied its first goal. It cane off the strong right foot of Railroaders standout forward Ruben Pacheco and was assisted by Jesus Partida.
The 1-0 margin stayed intact through the following 39 minutes of the first half and into the intermission.
Twelve minutes into the second half (52nd minute), South Tahoe scored its lone goal. Vikings junior Diego Garcia found the net after the STHS squad scored on a set play following a direct kick.
The two teams got into a physical clash on the pitch. It looked like the two teams would have to settle for a 1-1 draw, but apparently the soccer gods saw it differently.
With less than a minute remaining in the match, Sparks sent a crossing pass from the wing into the South Tahoe defensive box. The Vikings goalkeeper was hit in the head on a collision with a Sparks player as both athletes made a play on the ball. The South Tahoe goalkeeper took the worst of the hit and ended up with a cut on his head. He was forced to leave the game and was later attended to by local EMTs.
Officials ruled the ball went out of bounds off of South Tahoe on the sequence, rewarding Sparks a corner kick after play resumed.
The Railroaders cashed in. Sparks' Juan Hernandez took the corner and launched a pass into the middle of the Vikings' defensive box. Sparks' Joseph Dominguez corralled the pass and kicked it into the South Tahoe goal for a game-winning kick just before time expired on the heated match.
"I was just following coach's instructions, to follow the ball if someone missed it," Dominguez said. "It was just a loose ball. I wasn't thinking about anything special, just kicking it in and see what happens from there."
He did indeed kick it in. The final whistle blew seconds later and Sparks players had something to celebrate.
"I've said all year to our boys that we have to be prepared," Sparks coach Frank Avilla said. I felt like we matched up well. Sometimes it's about control and who stays under control. We stayed alive because we had control last, no doubt about it.
"We preach that we don't quit until the end. Today is an example of why … We're happy to be on the positive end of this one."
Sparks, one of the highest-scoring teams in the state, got off 37 shots, but managed just the two goals. Avilla didn't say his team struggled as much offensively as he attributed his team's low-scoring effort to a physical match between two good teams.
"South Tahoe is good defensively," Avilla said. "It was really hard-fought and at times hazardous play, but I think the best team won."
Next up for Sparks (8-1, 7-1 league) is a 4 p.m. conference clash against Spring Creek Friday.