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Sparks boys tie at South Tahoe; SHS girls thumped
by Tribune Staff
Oct 31, 2013 | 1146 views | 0 0 comments | 20 20 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A pair of own goals cost the Sparks boys soccer team an outright league championship. Sparks had to settle for a 3-3 tie at South Tahoe in its Div. I-A North League finale Thursday night.

The tie leaves Sparks with a 14-1-1 conference mark, the same record as rival Truckee and means the two teams will share a league crown.

The tough part for Sparks is two of South Tahoe's goals Thursday found the back of the Sparks net after last touching a Sparks player.

Sparks took the early lead when Ruben Pacheco scored seven minutes into the match, thanks to an assist from Oscar Gomez. The 1-0 edge stayed intact into halftime

South Tahoe knotted the match at a goal apiece when it scored in the 48th minute. The tie was short-lived. Sparks regained the lead, 2-1, when Jesus Partida posted a goal at the 56-minute mark.

That's about the time things started to take a turn for the worse for Sparks fans. South Tahoe was awarded a free kick from just beyond the Sparks defensive box. A Vikings shot hit the side pole of the Sparks goal then bounced back into play, off a Railroaders defender and back into the net, deadlocking the conference clash at 2-2 in the 59th minute.

For a brief period, Sparks looked like it would leave the Lake with a 3-2 win. Jose Mendoza scored in the 80th minute for Sparks when he was given an assist by Edwin Navarro.

Apparently a Sparks win wasn't meant to be. Two minutes later, in extra time, South Tahoe scored again, on another Sparks own goal. After another South Tahoe direct kick, the soccer ball deflected off Sparks goalkeeper Ronaldo Hernandez. It then bounced off a Sparks player and back into the SHS goal for a South Tahoe score, accounting for the final 3-3 margin.

"It was a very hard-fought game and in a very cold climate. For a while, we were not even sure if we'd play," Sparks coach Frank Avilla said. "We're not making any excuses. Finishing is our issue. We out-shot them 22-13 ... As a coaching staff, the frustrating things is knowing that we didn't play our best soccer and things went the way they did."

Sparks finishes its regular season with a non-league match Friday at DI foe Spanish Springs at 5:30 p.m.

At Sparks, the SHS girls saw first hand why South Tahoe is the class of the DI-A North League. South Tahoe clinched the regular season championship by handing Sparks a 7-0 defeat.

On Senior Day, Sparks started eight seniors as opposed to its customary two. South Tahoe wasted no time finding the scoring column. The visiting Vikings scored in the first minute of play and wound up building a 4-0 advantage by halftime.

"They clinched first place and the league's No. 1 playoff seed with the win. Yesterday, they beat poor Dayton 13-0. So yes, they're pretty good," Sparks coach Jerry Miller said. "They just have all the ball skills. They pass the ball well. Their players know where to be. They're really good about going down the outside and work to the middle. And then they have girls that have rockets for legs."

Sparks (2-13, 2-12) has had a tough emotional go of it in the last two weeks after its former assistant, Mike Landsberry, was shot and killed in the Sparks Middle School shooting on Oct. 21.

"They scored in the first minute and that put us back on our heels," Miler said. "You could see the girls eyes are pained. We've only maybe practiced three times in the last two weeks, but the girls are continuing on. They're not giving up."

Sparks concludes its season with a make-up game Friday at Fallon at 4 p.m. and another make-up game Saturday at Truckee. First kick there is 1 p.m.

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