Taking on the Panthers, the Purple and Silver flexed its muscle with a scoring display that left the Cougs lopsided victors.
“We weren’t going so much long ball. We kept it at our feet and played in front of the defense,” Spanish Springs coach Rob Moreland said. “They (North Valleys) kept dropping back really far and a lot of teams have been doing that so we’ve been working on forwards checking away and checking back and giving to their feet.
"Now they are combining instead of just knocking it, and they did a good job. We were talking and combining. It’s all coming together, and that’s nice to see.”
After the two sides sized one another up to begin the first half, Spanish Springs got on the scoreboard in the 22nd minute. Stepping into a free kick, senior forward Julio Soto sent a shot pass the Panthers' goalkeeper to tally the first mark of the contest, giving SSHS a 1-0 edge.
Shortly afterwards, Soto was at it again as he took a pass from junior midfielder Ricardo Camacho-Villa for a breakaway and stuck the ball into the back of the net for a 2-0 lead in the 27th minute.
North Valleys got on the scoreboard just before halftime with a goal in the 38th minute to cut the deficit to 2-1 heading into the intermission.
The contest remained a one-goal difference until midway through the second half when the Spanish Springs offense exploded for a trio of goals in a span of 14 minutes.
“We didn’t give up,” Moreland said. “We pressed and pressed and pressed, and I think they ran out of gas at the end there.”
In the 62nd minute Chance Callister pushed the Cougars' lead to 3-1 before Camacho-Villa extended it to 4-1 with a score in the 70th minute. Then Spanish Springs put the game on ice with a pretty goal in the 76th minute. Streaking down the right side of the field, Chris Moreland sent a through-ball into the middle of the field to Callister, who pushed a touch-cross to an awaiting Gabby Vazquez on the left side of the net, where he buried a bomb through the outstretched hands of the Panthers' goalie for the 5-1 final.
Spanish Springs (8-2 HDL) will welcome the Galena Grizzlies to its home pitch for a crossover league match on Saturday at 11 a.m.
Across town, the Reed Raiders’ squad visited Reno High in a showdown with the Huskies and both teams battling for the upper-hand in a tight contest.
Still scoreless after one half of play, the Raiders finally broke the deadlock with a goal in the 58th minute en route to a 1-0 win.
Possessing the ball in Reno territory, Raider Geraldo Martinez dribbled through a pair of Huskies’ defenders before dropping the ball off to an open Alex McPartland on the left side of the net. Taking advantage of the scoring opportunity, McPartland sent a rocket into the bottom right corner of the net for a deciding goal.
The Huskies put together a number of tries through the remainder of the game, with a handful of attempts missing just wide or high, but the Blue and Gold managed to fend off the Reno effort for the victory.
“I think we could have beaten them by more, but just like them we missed a lot of open-shot goals,” Reed coach Joel Martinez said. “The first half, they had two one-on-ones and luckily we didn’t get scored on. We sat them down at halftime and told them ‘The season’s not over. We win this game, we’re back in it.’
“This was as big a game as we’re going to play this season and that’s how we have to play for the rest of the season. It’s one of those games where I feel if we would have lost, our chances of making the playoffs would have been slim to none. Now we’re back in the picture. Whether it’s as a fourth, third or second seed, I know we can do it. That’s what we have to shoot for. No more letting anymore games slide.”
Reed (3-5-1) takes its home pitch against Carson on Monday with the match set to start at 3:30 p.m.