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Sparks knocks off Truckee, avenges earlier loss to California school
by Dan Eckles
Oct 25, 2013 | 1586 views | 1 1 comments | 30 30 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune photo by John Byrne - Sparks High forward Ruben Pacheco (in white) gets locked up with a Truckee player as the two battle for position during Friday's DI-A North League tilt.
Tribune photo by John Byrne - Sparks High forward Ruben Pacheco (in white) gets locked up with a Truckee player as the two battle for position during Friday's DI-A North League tilt.
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Tribune photo by John Byrne - SHS boys soccer coach Frank Avilla chat with his during a postgame meeting Friday.
Tribune photo by John Byrne - SHS boys soccer coach Frank Avilla chat with his during a postgame meeting Friday.
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The first time the Sparks and Truckee boys soccer teams met, in northern California last month, the perennial state powers combined for just one goal. Truckee posted the lone goal and has stood atop the DI-A North League standings ever since the Sept. 21 meeting.

More than a month later, the two teams met again, at SHS Friday afternoon. The second time around it was Sparks managing a goal and capturing a key 1-0 win in a conference clash.

"This match was exactly what we expected, a dogfight," Sparks coach Frank Avilla said. "Truckee is a well-disciplined, good team. They bring out the best in us. It was a physical match but within the boundaries of fair play. It was a match that could've gone either way.

"To be a good team, you have to be able to play physical. We prepare and work to play physical matches every day."

The pivotal triumph lifed Sparks (14-1, 13-1 DI-A North) over Truckee (16-1-1, 13-1-1) in the league standings and means the Railroaders will earn the conference's top postseason seed, assuming they can win their final two league matches, at South Tahoe Tuesday and at home against Fallon Thursday.

Sparks found the back of the net for the match's only goal Friday when freshman Jesus Partida headed a ball over an approaching Truckee goalkeeper and into the net. Jose Mendoza provided the assist on the 36th minute goal.

"Ruben (Pacheco) took a shot and Truckee cleared it," Partida said. "But Bauser (Jose Mendoza) hit a long ball that bounced one time in front of the Truckee goal. Their goalkeeper was coming out. I beat him to it and just chipped it over him."

The hosts thought they extended their edge to 2-0 two minutes later. Ruben Pacheco fired a shot past the Truckee goalkeeper and into the net in the 38th minute but officials waved it off, calling Pacheco off sides.

Not long after, the long-time league rivals walked into the halftime break with the 1-0 score intact. Both teams had plenty of opportunities to change the score. Sparks got off 33 shots to Truckee's 17, but the visiting Wolverines had more than a few realistic chances to grab at least a tie.

In the 70th minute, a Truckee forward elevated above the pack on a corner kick and headed the ball toward the Sparks goal, but SHS goalkeeper Ronaldo Hernandez, came seemingly out of nowhere to wrap up the ball and thwart a potential Truckee tying goal.

In the 76th minute, Truckee got a through ball down the middle that Hernandez narrowly beat a Truckee pursuer to in the open field, saving a shot on an open Railroaders goal.

Hernandez finished with nine saves and many of them seemed to be of the spectacular variety.

"It could've gone either way," Wolverines coach Casey Eberhardt said. "Toward the end, we had our chances. It's always going to be tough against Sparks. You can't ever take them lightly."

Sparks got a chance to add an insurance goal in the 79th minute. Partida got behind the Truckee defense and had an open look at a breakaway 1-on-1 with the Wolverines goalie. However, in his haste and excitement he drilled a rocket shot over the crossbar of the THS goal from 40 yards out.

"We had our opportunities out there, just like last time," Avilla said. "Our boys played a little tight early, but that's to be expected sometimes in big games. We got better as the game wore on ... We have good pride here. When our boys step on the field, they're ready to play. Matches like this bring out the best in our players."

The traditionally tough squads finished their regular season home-and-away series Friday, but they may not be through seeing each other. It wouldn't be much of a surprise if the two schools squared off again in the postseason, in the DI-A North title game early next month.

"With this win, Sparks goes ahead of us," Eberhardt said. "We'll see how the rest of the league plays out, but they'll probably be the No. 1 seed and we'll be the No. 2,. If we both take care of business, I have no doubt we'll see each other again."

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JustAnotherSportsGuy
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October 26, 2013
Question: Was the reporter actually at the game?

If so.. was he even there for greater part of 50% of the game?

Either that he has better eyesight than me.. and can cover both ends of the field equally well.

Actually, the reporting sounded more like taking a dictation from a telephone call conversation.

Good game indeed.. Score could easily have been 4-3 3-2.. with Truckee dominating roughly the last five minutes of the game as Sparks defenders fell back to protect. Almost backfired.
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