The Railroaders remained in a 1-1 tie for 62 minutes. Their shots sailed high or wide, nailed the posts and provided easy and stellar save opportunities for Dayton goalkeeper Natasha Wells. Unfortunately none of them were finding the back of the net.
That all changed with four minutes to play. Claire Jacinto lofted a shot high in the air from outside the box that had the perfect amount of touch to carry over Wells’ head but clear the underside of the crossbar for the winning goal in the 2-1 decision.
“A win is a win. We did not play well,” Sparks girls soccer coach Jerry Miller said. “Our leadership-type people had sluggish days. The people who scored goals for us were like the first goals of the year for them basically. Ana Torres scored on her birthday. We started her because it was her birthday. Maybe I should do that more often. And then Claire Jacinto is not usually one of our goal scorers. It was good they stepped up.”
Birthday girl Ana Torres broke the scoreless tie for Sparks with a goal in the ninth minute. Jessica Mendoza assisted on the goal.
However, the Dust Devils came right back to tie it in the 14th minute. Maribel Ledezma took a shot from long range. Because no one marked her, it became an easy goal on a wide open shot.
The score would remain tied at 1-1 for the rest of the first half and for the first 36 minutes of the second half.
Val Guerrero recorded six saves to pick up the win in goal, while her counterpart from Dayton finished with 10.
Although a tie would not have mathematically eliminated the Railroaders from postseason contention, realistically it would have with North Tahoe and Incline also fighting with Sparks for those final two spots.
Sparks (6-5-1, 3-4-1 3A Sierra League) heads to Incline Tuesday for an important league clash. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m.
•The Sparks boys soccer team didn’t need any late-game heroics to get by Dayton Friday. The Railroaders scored one minute into the game and the rout was on as the home team secured a 10-1 victory.
Marco Pintor tallied four goal, including three in the second half to lead the Maroon and Gold in the rout.
Hector Hernandez got Sparks on the board first in the opening minute thanks to an assist by Eric Ojeda.
Hernandez then extended a bit of generosity when he helped Pintor score his first goal two minutes later.
In the 12th minute, Ojeda made it a 3-0 game with an unassisted goal.
After Dayton allowed an own goal, Vincente Cervantes assisted on Edgar Casillas’ goal with about 10 minutes left in the half for a 5-0 advantage.
The Dust Devils got their only goal with about a minute before the intermission.
The onslaught continued when the teams came out of halftime. In the 50th minute, Anthony Flores made it 6-1.
The next two goals came off the foot of Pintor. In the 58th minute, Pintor collected a loose ball when the Dayton keeper couldn’t corral it and Pintor buried it into the back of the net. Four minutes later, Pintor completed his hat trick when Kevin Partida hooked a free kick back toward Pintor, who was making a run on the goal. Pintor controlled it on first touch and shot it into the left side of the goal.
Within a span of about 45 seconds, Pintor assisted on a Cervantes goal and then scored his fourth late in the game.
“It was a very good game. Dayton is coming along, but we executed our game plan,” Sparks boys soccer coach Frank Avilla said. “They had good touch today and a good desire to be the first to the ball. This is what we’re working on. I’m proud of all of them. They are stepping up with their grades. This is the time of the season where we need to start gelling and it looks like we are.”
Sparks (8-3-2, 4-2-2 in league) has a 4 p.m. contest Tuesday at Incline.
•In a non-league matchup between former High Desert League rivals, the Reed girls soccer team used two first-half goals to secure a 2-1 triumph over Elko Friday at Golden Eagle Regional Park.
Katelyn Raatz scored the opening goal about 10 minutes into the game, and Taylor Ryckebosch added what proved to be the game-winner with about 10 minutes remaining in the first half.
Elko was able to get on the board in the second half due to what Reed girls soccer coach Jason Saville called his team getting complacent and viewing the game like a scrimmage. He said the Raiders stopped playing simple soccer.
Reed is back in action today when it heads to Damonte Ranch for a 1 p.m. kickoff today.