“The girls didn’t give up. They played hard the whole game,” Sparks coach Jerry Miller said. “There was a place in the beginning of the second half it looked like we might break, but we came back.”
Sparks scored first on a Zaira Lara goal that was assisted by Dannae Soto in the 13th minute of the match.
The Railroaders nearly took the 1-0 edge into the intermission, but Fernley got the equalizer. Alisha Stoffle scored for the Vaqueros seconds before the end of the first half to tie things up.
Fernley (8-4-1 in 3A) came out strong right after halftime, scoring in the 42nd and 48th minutes for a 3-1 advantage.
“At least two of their goals we clearly could have stopped,” Miller said. “We had some mental breakdowns. Some of it you could see coming from our forward position.”
The Railroaders (7-7-2, 2-5-1 3A) got one more in, finding the net in the 63rd minute. Andrea Gumina scored to trim the FHS advantage to 3-2, but that’s as good as it got for Sparks. The Railroaders were unable to get one last goal and tie up the match.
“We’re just a little too thin. We’re not the same team that we started with when we played Fernley before,” Miller said. “Due to injuries and we’ve lost almost a third of the team to grades during the season. We knew we were going to be thin but we had a chance to win this the whole way.”
The Railroaders out-shot the Vaqueros 16-9 but were unable to get in the game-tying goal that could have pushed the action into overtime.
Sparks goalkeeper Nora Valenzuela racked up four saves in the match for the Railroaders.
After the best Sparks seasons in recent years, Tuesday’s defeat was a tough loss for the team. Still SHS players were reflecting on the promising season. The Railroaders graduate just three seniors from this year’s club.
“We can’t be anything but happy. We still finished with more wins than losses,” Miller said. “We’re graduating three seniors. Most of these girls are freshmen and sophomores. We feel next year we’ll be real strong.”
Fernley moves on to play Truckee on Friday at noon. Truckee beat Dayton 12-1 in its quarterfinal match Tuesday.