Once again, Sparks is the class of the DI-A North.
The Railroaders defended their regional title on Saturday in dramatic fashion against Elko, in Elko, winning in penalty kicks.
After neither team found the net in regulation, or in either of the two 15-minute overtime periods, Sparks claimed the DI-A North’s No. 1 state seed with a 5-4 win in penalty kicks.
Elko’s second shot ricocheted off the post and Sparks connected on all of its remaining kicks to seal the repeat.
“I’m so tickled ,” Sparks coach Frank Avilla said. “The boys work very, very hard. I feel they earn everything they go after. Today was no different … They never gave up.”
— Sparks High School (@SparksHS) November 7, 2015
Because games only go to penalty kicks in the postseason, many teams don’t spend much time working on them over the course of the season. Not Sparks though.
The team practices the tiebreaker once a week.
The Railroaders, who also won the DI-A North regular-season title, improved to 17-1-4 on the season with their lone loss coming in the third game of the season to Incline Village—on penalty kicks.
“With what happened (in the loss to Incline), stretching our legs, what happened there taught us a lesson,” Avilla said.
Elko fell to 17-5-4 (three losses to Sparks) and will take the DI-A North No. 2 seed to state starting Friday at South Tahoe. The Indians will play Clark (15-6-1), which beat SECTA 3-2 in overtime in the DI-A South title game on Saturday.
Sparks will square off with SECTA and the two teams are certainly familiar.
In 2013, the Roadrunners and Railroaders went to penalty kicks in the state semifinal before the DI-A South squad won 4-2 and went on to win the state title.
In 2012, SECTA beat Sparks 3-2 in the state championship.
“SECTA has been our nemesis at state,” Avilla said. “We’re not looking past anybody. These boys take one game at a time and I think we’re going to do the same thing this week.”