Truckee soccer | Boys suffer first league loss against rival Sparks |

Truckee soccer | Boys suffer first league loss against rival Sparks

Sylas Wright

TRUCKEE — Truckee boys soccer coach Casey Eberhardt often yells, "Unlucky," when a good play does not turn out in favor of his Wolverines.

The word could be used to sum up Truckee's 3-2 loss to visiting rival Sparks on senior farewell Friday.

The Wolverines dominated possession throughout the contest while relentlessly pressuring the Railroaders' goal late. But Sparks scored on an own-goal, played clutch defense and took advantage of a couple of defensive lapses by the hosts to hand the Wolverines their first loss in Northern Division I-A play.

Truckee, which defeated Sparks 2-1 in their first meeting, fell to 11-1 in league but remains in first place, two points ahead of second-place Sparks (10-2-1). The Wolverines have four games remaining on their league schedule and the Railroaders have three.

"Now the pressure is on everybody. Anything can happen in these matches," said Sparks coach Frank Avilla. "But we're excited about what happened here today. … There was a lot of energy at the start because it was their senior day, and our boys tapped into that."

The Railroaders struck first with a goal in the 18th minute, as Leo Bocanerga crossed a ball deep into the box from the right wing, where Uriel Ramirez was positioned to hit it in.

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Truckee answered with the equalizer four minutes later. After starting the game on the bench, sophomore Manny Sarabia entered and promptly impacted the game when he slipped past a Sparks player near midfield, dribbled another 35 yards with a defender at his side and finished with a hard shot into the far side netting.

The Wolverines surged ahead three minutes later when senior Thomas Arnstein gathered the rebound of a corner kick and hit it in from close range. Truckee carried the 2-1 lead into the half.

The Wolverines wish they could replay the start of the second half.

In the 42nd minute, Truckee nearly knocked in an own-goal on a Sparks corner kick, but the ball bounced off the near goalpost and out of bounds. On the Railroaders' ensuing corner kick, however, the Wolverines did knock the ball into their own goal, tying the score.

Just two minutes after that, Sparks sophomore Genaro Vazquez blasted a shot from 25 yards out that bulged the back of the net for a 3-2 Sparks lead.

"The first half I think we were trying to drive it forward too quickly. And then at the start of the second half we fell asleep for five minutes there, and it cost us," said Truckee coach Casey Eberhardt.

With most of the second half still remaining, the Wolverines seemed poised to bounce back from their second deficit of the afternoon. They went to work with their possession game and attacked the Sparks defense.

The Railroaders were ready. They dropped multiple players back on defense to combat the Wolverines' barrage.

"We did start dropping kids back," Avilla said, adding that the Railroaders placed extra emphasis on keeping Arnstein in check. "We talked about that at the half, and it worked. Our game plan came together."

As time wore down, Truckee picked up its offensive pressure to the encouragement of the large home crowd. Despite the constant attack, Sparks escaped every threat as Truckee shots sailed off their marks or were denied by defenders, who cleared downfield only to have the Wolverines come right back.

In the final minute of play, a shot by Arnstein grazed off the charging keeper and spun toward the open goal. Just before it crossed the line, however, Sparks senior Luis Espitia raced in and knocked it away with a sliding kick.

"It's always going to be a good game when we play Sparks," Eberhardt said. "Just because you beat them once does not mean you're going to the next time."

As Avilla pointed out, the Wolverines and Railroaders will almost surely meet again in the postseason as they battle once again for Division I-A supremacy.

"I believe we will see each other again," he said. "I think we're two of the toughest teams in the state."

On Monday, the Wolverines defeated visiting Fernley 9-0. Arnstein scored four goals, Sarabia and David Martinez each had two goals, and Ethan Rohlf had one.

The Wolverines end the regular season with three road games — at Elko (8-5-1) on Friday, Spring Creek (6-5-2) on Saturday and Dayton (0-14) next Tuesday.

The Northern Division I-A regional tournament will be contested at Truckee's Riverview Sports Park on Nov. 7-8. The top two teams from regionals advance to the state tournament in Henderson, Nev.

Northern Division I-A standings

Team League         Overall         Points

xTruckee     12-1  16-3-2          36

xSparks          11-2-1 18-2-1          34

South Tahoe     8-4-1 8-5-1 25

Elko   8-5-1 10-9-2 25

Fallon           7-6-1 9-7-3 22

Spring Creek     6-5-2 9-8-2 20

Lowry           4-9     5-12  12

Fernley        2-10-2 2-13-2          8

Dayton          0-14  0-16  0