“We're in shape,” Sparks
coach Frank Avilla said. “Fortunately at this time of year, we're in good shape. The kids are playing very disciplined ball. They actually took our gameplan. We're working more on a good touch and keeping the ball on the ground for through passes instead of up and over.”
Sparks scored early and often, posting five goals in the first half before more than doubling that up with six in the second, holding Fernley scoreless.
“I feel we have the best defense in the state,” Avilla said. “We have. We've always taken pride with our stop and sweep in the middle and this year it's no different.”
Avilla credited some of this to the growth as a leader of Danny Ornelas who has taken a major role as Sparks captain this year.
While many Railroaders got in on the scoring action, seniors Andrew Garcia and Avey Quintino really stepped it up for the squad.
Garcia scored the first goal for Sparks, less than four minutes into the match with an assist from Ivan Torres. Next, Ornelas scored about four minutes later with an assist from Quintino. Garcia scored his second of the day at the 11:45 mark.
Quintino followed less than two minutes later with a goal of his own. Christian Cordova rounded out Sparks' scoring in the half with a goal in the 19th minute for a 5-0 Sparks lead.
The second half was not much better for Fernley. Sparks was quiet to begin the half but that didn't last long. Sparks then found the net frequently. Fernando Ramirez broke the silence of the half in the 55th minute, assisted by Garcia.
“We had six off-sides. We've got to work on that,” Avilla said. “On a positive note, on our off-sides, we're running. We're looking for the ball. We're hungry. I don't think that's our worry.”
Eric Ojeda got in on the scoring action with an assist by Edgar Cassillas. Ojeda had back-to-back goals, the second unassisted in the 65th minute with a move from the right to cut into the middle with a shot deep into the right hand side of the goal.
Three minutes later, Quintino recorded the first Railroaders hat trick of the year.
Cordova tallied his second mark, with another Quintino assist. With a 9-0 lead, Anthony Flores and Danny Cervantes scored about 20 seconds apart, both assisted by Cesar Garcia. Cervantes capitalized on a miscue from the Fernley keeper as he came out to challenge the ball. Cervantes picked up the bounce and sent it home for Sparks.
“Our job is to make sure we get them consistent and we keep them in shape. Their job is to stay in school and to come to the field with a positive attitude,” Avilla said. “If we both conquer that, anything can happen.”
Sparks plays Friday and Saturday at home, hosting Spring Creek and Battle Mountain.
•The Sparks Railroaders captured a 6-6 tie against Fernley Tuesday afternoon.
Sparks had to make a comeback in the second half after falling behind 5-1 in the first half to the Vaqueros.
Sparks coach Jerry Miller said that one of the biggest problems in the first half was Fernley's off-side trap, keeping his forwards off balance. Miller said his squad racked up 13 off-side calls.
“At half, we talked to our forwards about off-sides and put it on them that they were letting the team down,” Miller said. “Forwards are supposed to score. That's their job.”
Also in the first half, Fernley had seven shots on goal and put in five. Sparks however had 15 shots while only netting one.
Dannae Soto put in four goals for Sparks and Jessica Mendoza had two assists and one goal.
SHS senior goalkeeper, Nora Valenzuela, stepped up to play defense for Sparks in the first half. In the second, the Railroaders had her at the helm in the net and seemed to clam down.
“The team is more confident with her,” Miller said.
Miller said that the Railroaders played more freshmen in the second half, due to losing 10 players from last season. He was pleased with the way they played.
“Some of those freshmen have junior high experience and that's it,” Miller said. “They're learning how to play.”
Sparks will host Spring Creek at 5 p.m. on Friday.