Sparks was shutout in its third consecutive game Friday in a 4-0 loss at home to Spring Creek, falling to 1-4 in league games. Spring Creek improved to 3-2 in league meetings.
The Spartans took a 1-0 lead in the 37th minute on Shawntel Andersen goal. Twelve minutes into the second half, Andersen added an insurance tally before Tera Perry and Linsey Bessert tacked on unassisted goals in the 68th and 75th minutes.
"We give up a lot of goals by our failure to close down the shooter and by throwing out a stabbing leg to try to make up for our inability to contain attackers,” coach Jerry Miller said in an email Friday night. “It is something we constantly work on, but it doesn't carry over into games, especially when we start to get tired.”
Along with dropping the contest, Sparks lost one if its “most valuable players,” Gabriela Hernandez, who suffered a last-minute knee injury.
“She has played every position for us, and never complains,” Miller said. “She's just so eager to play all the time, and there is no way you can replace someone of her caliber.”
With an increasing number of injuries, Miller brought Poala Corral up from JV to start at forward. Miller thought Corral gave his team “a lift” and that “her high work-rate really elevated the energy level” of his team.
Freshman keeper Senifa Po’oi made 13 saves.
Saturday was more of the same for Sparks as an unsettling trend is developing for Miller and his Sparks girls soccer squad.
Unable to find the back of the net, the Railroaders have remained competitive before allowing late goals to put the game out of reach.
Sparks fell 2-0 to perennial state power, Elko at home Saturday despite suiting up only 14 players. The Railroaders have been hammered by injuries this season and Miller added that some of his players, "have other things to do on weekends sometimes."
It was the fourth consecutive game the Railroaders were shutout.
"It's a major concern for us," Miller said. "We don't have players that can bang it in from 25 yards out. We're just that strong. So we have to rely more on finesse, combination play to get past the defensive back four.
"We are getting a little better. We're starting to connect those passes but we need to work harder at that."
Despite the shortened roster and offensive woes, Sparks held Elko to 14 shots.
"That's not bad for us," Miller said.
Elko got on the board in the 25th minute and again in the 78th minute when Allie Hendrix went the length of the field and "beat everybody and pounded it in."
Po'oi made 13 saves for the second straight game for Sparks which is now 1-5. Elko improved to 2-2-1.
Sparks hosts Chuchill County Tuesday at 4 p.m. in the final of five straight home games.