Northern Division I-A soccer | Truckee boys dealt regional championship loss
Division I-A state championship
State semifinal, Friday
Sunrise Mountain (No. 1 Southern) vs. Truckee (No. 2 Northern), 64p.m.
Sparks (No. 1 Northern) vs. Chaparral (No. 2 Southern), 4 p.m.
State championship, Saturday
Semifinal winners, 10 a.m.
All games at Heritage Park, Henderson, Nev.
The Truckee boys warmed up a little too late Saturday.
Much like their last meeting against rival Sparks, the Wolverines fell behind early in the Northern Division I-A regional championship before waging an all-out assault in the final minutes that came up short.
Moments after the would-be tying goal, which was negated by an offside call, Sparks celebrated a 2-1 win that sends the Railroaders (22-2-2) to the state championship tournament as the North’s No. 1 seed.
The Wolverines (20-4-2), who carried the top seed into the regional tournament at Truckee’s Riverview Sports Park, will enter state as the North’s No. 2 seed. They’ll open this Friday in Henderson against the top Southern seed, Sunrise Mountain — the team that knocked Truckee out of the state tournament a year ago.
“It didn’t happen for us today,” said Truckee coach Casey Eberhardt, whose Wolverines split their regular-season series against the Railroaders, and have also split the last four regional titles with Sparks. “Fortunately, we accomplished our goal of getting to state.”
Sparks took the early lead Saturday when sophomore Jesus Partida got his head on a corner kick in the 15th minute. The Railroaders — a large, talented and disciplined bunch — held Truckee’s potent offense in check throughout the half, visibly frustrating the Wolverines.
“We just followed our game plan and kept their players in front of us,” Sparks coach Frank Avilla said. “If we did that we knew that they’d turn on each other and break down.”
Early in the second half, just when it seemed the Wolverines were settling in and starting to attack with regularity, the Railroaders doubled their lead with a counter attack, which ended with sophomore Genaro Vazquez slipping a shot past the charging Gabriel Serna, Truckee’s All-League goalie.
The Wolverines fought back but had trouble penetrating the Railroaders’ stacked defense. Finally, in the 74th minute, Truckee senior Leo Villa beat a Sparks defender inside the box and hit a quick shot past senior goalie Ronaldo Hernandez, who had denied the Wolverines with a couple of skilled saves in the second half.
With their home crowd behind them, the Wolverines continued their offensive barrage with an even greater sense of urgency. Minutes after Villa cut the lead in half, Truckee sophomore Manuel Sarabia gathered a through-ball and kicked it past Hernandez for the apparent tying goal.
Sarabia and teammates celebrated along with their fans before realizing the assistant referee ruled Sarabia offside. The Wolverines argued to no avail, and the final whistle ended the contest moments later.
“It was close,” Eberhardt said of the offside call. “I was pretty far away so it was hard for me to tell.”
The Truckee coach said the Wolverines failed to establish the style of play that earned them the top regional seed with a 15-1 league record.
“The first half we started playing into their game — long balls over the top, which is not what we’re trying to do,” he said. “We need to play the ball to our feet. We had the same issue the last time we played them at home.
“You’re only going to have so many chances against Sparks, so you have to score. If you don’t, they will.”
While disappointed with the outcome, Eberhardt was pleased with his team’s resolve, and that Villa contributed a goal after enduring a scoring drought late in the season.
“We’re trying to get him scoring again,” he said. “For him to get that goal is huge for his confidence.”
The Wolverines defeated fourth-seeded Fallon 4-1 on Friday to advance to the regional championship.
Truckee, which led 1-0 at the half, received a goal apiece from Arnstein, Sarabia, David Martinez and Ethan Rohlf.
Truckee will face Sunrise Mountain — which lost 2-1 in overtime to Chaparral in the Southern Division I-A championship — in the state semifinal round Friday at 4 p.m. Sparks will face Chaparral on the other side of the bracket. Winners meet for the state championship Saturday at 10 a.m. at Heritage Park in Henderson.