Sparks got all it could handle from fifth-seeded Incline in Thursday’s 3A North regional tournament opener at Lowry.
Jesus Partida headed an Eric Cervantes corner in stoppage time to give the Railroaders a 3-2 win. It was their second one-goal win over Incline (12-6-4) in nine days. The Railroaders (21-2-1) edged the Highlanders 2-1 at Sparks last Tuesday to clinch the 3A North regular season title.
Partida scored the late game winner in that one as well.
“It was a hard-fought game,” Sparks coach Jose Espana said. “We definitely feel fortunate to advance. They brought it. Hopefully it humbled these guys.”
The first of Partida’s two goals, on a penalty kick, gave the Railroaders a 2-1 lead in the 64th minute.
Incline drew even six minutes later and nearly took the lead in the 75th. Backup keeper Marvin Monreal had to play a few minutes after the starter drew a yellow, and made a game-saving save.
“That was huge,” Espana said.
Incline grabbed a 1-0 lead in the 14th minute. That score held until Brandon Paz drew the Railroaders even with an unassisted goal in first half stoppage time.
Sparks will play third-seeded Truckee (15-4-3) on Friday at 1 p.m. for a spot in the regional title game, as well as a state berth.
The Wolverines beat Dayton in the quarterfinals, 8-2. Two of their four losses this season are to Sparks, by a combined score of 9-1.
“It should be fun,” Espana said. “Truckee is a pretty big matchup for us.”