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Sparks falls in title bid
by Aaron Retherford
Nov 07, 2009 | 783 views | 0 0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune/John Byrne - Sparks' Eric Ojeda (10) found it difficult to find free space during second-half action of the Railroaders' 3-1 loss to Incline in the Northern 3A Regional title game.
Tribune/John Byrne - Sparks' Eric Ojeda (10) found it difficult to find free space during second-half action of the Railroaders' 3-1 loss to Incline in the Northern 3A Regional title game.
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There's the old sports cliché that it's hard to beat the same team three times in a season.

But it's even harder to beat Incline just once in prep boys soccer. The Highlanders took down Sparks for the third time this fall with a 3-1 decision, earning the Northern 3A Regional championship Saturday afternoon in Fallon.

Incline senior forward Alex Reyes-Manrriquez was just ridiculous against the Railroaders.

Trailing 1-0 late in the first half, Reyes-Manrriquez stood in the corner and lofted a ball with his left foot and hooked it over Sparks keeper Javier Torres, drilling the inside of the far post for the equalizer.

"Alex has had a tremendous season. Today was just a little bit more of the same. He's scored a lot of our big goals recently," Incline coach Tom Canino said. "He gets the touch. When he gets in front of the goal, he can put the ball away. That first goal, not many people can even lay that ball in."

A little over a minute later, Reyes-Manrriquez got a ball on the run, which soon turned into a breakaway and an easy goal as he rocketed a shot into the back of the net for a 2-1 lead heading into halftime.

While Sparks (13-4-2) could not muster a solid final touch for an easy scoring opportunity in the second half, the Railroaders did have a couple real solid chances to knot the game at two goals apiece.

In the 48th minute, Abi Quintino started a massive push upfield with a pass to Eric Ojeda. Instead of taking a shot on goal, Ojeda decided to cross the ball to Andrew Garcia, who was denied by Incline goalkeeper Carlos Garcia with a kick save.

With about 26 minutes left in the contest, Sparks was awarded an indirect kick from inside the box, but Quintino's shot went wide.

Because the Railroaders were desperate for a goal, that opened up one last chance for the Highlanders. Incline booted the ball upfield. Reyes-Manrriquez was the only one there for the top-seeded Highlanders, but that's all they needed as he flicked the ball over Torres and punched it in as it was landing on the ground to complete his hat trick. It was his 35th goal of the year.

Sparks lit up the scoreboard first with just over 12 minutes gone in the game.

With fans calling for Kevin Partida to deliver a pass to an open Andrew Garcia on the right side of the field, Partida threaded a needle with a pass to Ojeda between two Incline defenders on the left side. Ojeda suddenly became open because of the pass and he made one touch and ripped a shot past the Incline keeper.

It was the only shot Carlos Garcia let by though as he recorded five saves in the win. Torres had six saves for Sparks.

Incline rolled through the regular season and postseason without losing a contest. The Highlanders' only blemish on their 21-1-1 record came against 4A Bishop Manogue in a non-regulation length game during Galena's preseason tournament.

"We just have a team of guys that really likes to play together," Incline's eighth-year coach said. "We put it on the field that way. We've had talented teams before, but the guys really like playing with each other. We play a style of ball that really suits our talent. When it's working, it's a fun game to watch."

Sparks' season is not done though. By reaching the regional title match, the Railroaders automatically qualified for this week's state tournament held at Golden Eagle Regional Park in Sparks Friday with the state championship coming Saturday at Damonte Ranch.

Sparks will face Southern Nevada champion Virgin Valley at noon Friday.

"Hats off to them (Incline) because they're the Zone champions, but look out for us because we're coming hard for state, and I think we're primed to go," Sparks coach Frank Avilla said. "We have not played our best. The kids are very upset, and I like to see that. But they need to keep it in perspective and come back next week and play with even more heart and desire. They represented Sparks soccer and the Sparks community very well today."

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Sparks falls in title bid by Aaron Retherford


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