Truckee soccer | Wolverines fall to Sparks in regional championship |

Truckee soccer | Wolverines fall to Sparks in regional championship

Courtesy Matt Unrau / Elko Daily Free PressTruckee goalie Ignacio Diaz eyes a shot that he blocked during the Wolverines' 3-0 loss to Sparks in the regional title game.

ELKO, Nev. – If Sparks and Truckee didn’t have to play each other, they may never lose.

The two teams have been the unrivaled class in Division I-A boys soccer the last two years. Neither team has lost to another school except each other and Sparks is the defending state champion.

The two schools were at it again Saturday in the Northern Division I-A championship. In the end it was Sparks, which was too quick, too decisive and too relentless, winning 3-0 and capturing their second regional championship in the last four years.

“This year we’re going in as the number one seed (at the state tournament) and we’re excited about that. Truckee always plays tough and its team history shows that, but I think they recognize Sparks now,” Sparks coach Frank Avilla said.

It was the fourth meeting between the two schools this season and this one helped Sparks avenge a 2-0 loss to Truckee on Oct. 11, its only loss of the season.

Last year, Sparks was the one to end Truckee’s season, but this year both teams will still play another game.

“We got the win (Friday) when we needed it, but we came out flat (Saturday). We’ll take that and learn from it,” Truckee coach Casey Eberhardt said.

Both teams’ defenses came into the game focusing on a couple key players, but Sparks had more weapons up front.

While Sparks forward Kevin Partida was double- and triple-teamed for long portions of the game, it freed up Hector Hernandez, who scored two of the three goals in the game.

Partida was also still able to escape the smothering defense long enough to put his mark on the win and record the first assist of the day. That came in the 17th minute.

With the Truckee defense scrambling after a Sparks shot bounced off the goal post, Partida collected the rebound, dribbled in and crossed a ball in front of the goal. It went past the goalie to Hernandez, who buried the ball in the goal.

With two minutes left in the first half, Ruben Pacheco added to the lead by receiving a ball on the left side, dribbling to the middle and burying a shot in the upper right post from 20 yards out.

Truckee tried to answer with a disciplined passing game, but Hernandez put the game on ice when he chipped a ball up and over the goalie in the 73rd minute for the third and final goal of the game.

The three-goal differential was the biggest loss of the season for Truckee, which lost by two goals in it previous two defeats. In the second game at Sparks, Truckee rallied from a two-goal deficit to tie the game at two, but lost 4-2.

This time around, their passing game wasn’t as disciplined as they wanted, said Eberhardt.

“We weren’t able to hold our shape in this game and they were able to get in and behind our midfield for their opportunities,” he said. “We just weren’t able to move as a team. It wasn’t their speed (that hurt us).”

The Truckee Wolverines had several chances to get back in the game. One of the best was in the second half when Fernando Rodriguez chipped a ball at the near post that was inches away from missing the frame.

Truckee enters the state tournament as the No. 2 seed from the North and will play the top seed from the South. Last year, their positions were reversed and Sparks won the state tournament as the second seed from the North.

“Is it easier (this year) or did we put big targets on our back?” Avilla said.

The state tournament begins Friday at Heritage Park in Henderson.

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