The two Rail City’s Nevada Northern Division I girls soccer teams took the pitch Monday evening as a bitter cold blanketed the field. Reed and Spanish Springs battled through the freezing temperatures, but had a difficult time finding the back of the net en route to a 1-1 tie in the regular season finale.
“It’s hard to hit the ball in this cold,” Spanish Springs coach Mike Faker said. “We took a lot of shots and it is just hard to hit a ball when it’s this cold. I think it kind of showed with the shot placement. There were a lot of times where it just looked like the shot was a little off.”
Reed coach Jason Saville agreed with the assessment.
“I know that it affected some of our players mentally,” he said.” Each team gets a half in the wind though. It’s a cold night, but it’s cold for everybody. It is just going to be the team that is mentally more prepared for the conditions and I think for the first 60 minutes that was them and I think for the last 20 it was us.”
As the chilly weather and brutal wind swept the field, the two offenses lacked much firepower. Chance after chance fell futile as the girls could not get much behind their shots. Eventually though, Spanish Springs was able to break through.
Following a first half that left the game 0-0 at the intermission, the break seemed to warm up the Cougar offense. Early and often in the second half, the Purple and Silver tested Reed goalkeeper Angie Pastor. Time after time though, Pastor came through for the Raiders and kept the Cougs off the scoreboard. Despite her strong play in net, there was not much Pastor could do when the ball found the foot of Spanish Springs’ Makayla Long.
Taking a ball chipped deep by Corrin Clark, Long stopped the ball, made a quick spin move that left the lone Reed defender near her in her wake and then beat the Pastor for the first mark of the contest at the 61st minute and a 1-0 SSHS lead.
“It was a nice play,” Faker said. “She’s left-footed so she tucked the ball and cut it behind, which is a nice cut putting her body between the defender and the ball. She spun it around and got it on her left foot and ripped one. It was a nice shot.”
From there it looked as though the Cougars would fend off the Raiders for the one-goal victory, but the Blue and Gold refused to give in.
Following the Spanish Springs’ goal, the Raiders took the offensive and began controlling the ball in the Cougars’ territory, flipping the script from the first 60 minutes of the game. Like Pastor and Reed’s other netminder, Stefani Pehle, who played the first half, SSHS goalie Baylie Krutsinger turned the opposition away repeatedly.
As the game went into extra time, the Cougars were mere minutes away from the win, but a last-ditch effort by Reed squared the match.
With their chances dwindling, Raider Katelyn Raatz sent in a free kick from the sideline that pin-balled around in front of the Spanish Springs net. As the ball bounced around, it eventually landed in front of midfielder Vanessa Arzaluz who tucked it into the back left corner for the equalizer.
“We have the league champs out here and congratulations to them on their first league title, but these girls kept fighting and didn’t want to lose,” Saville said of his team’s resolve. “They take pride in not losing to their rival. We’ve lost to them three times in nine years and we didn’t want to lose to them twice in the same season, so they found a way. We’ll take a tie away from home against a good team. A tie is a fair result tonight and anybody who watched the match can’t be too upset.”
While the Raiders were happy to walk away with the 1-1 result, Spanish Springs was not so pleased.
“It’s disappointing because it was a set piece and we just seem to be having trouble figuring out set pieces,” Faker said. “I don’t understand what our issue is. I don’t know if anyone did anything wrong there though. It was just kind of a free-for-all in front of the net. It’s just disappointing to give up goals on set pieces, especially that late in the game.”
Spanish Springs managed a pair of scoring chances in the first half, but could not capitalize on the opportunities.
In the 13th minute, a ball in deep Reed territory ran just pass the reach of Audrey Barham and into the safe hands of Pehle.
Two minutes later, the Cougars had another shot at a goal, but the header by Sam Ryckebosche went just wide right of the net. From there the sun dropped and the chilling temperatures took hold of the game’s tempo.
Both squads will open the postseason next week. Spanish Springs (10-3-3) will be the No. 1 seed for the HDL and will host its match, while Reed (8-5-3) is stuck in the No. 3 position.