Sparks only lost two games last season on its way to the 3A state title.
The Railroaders matched that total on Friday, the first day of the season, with a pair of losses to 4A programs North Valleys and Coronado in the Howell Memorial Tournament played at the South Valley Sports Complex.
“Obviously (it’s) not the start we wanted, but we’re going to learn from it, grow from it, and we look forward to playing tomorrow,” second-year coach Jose Espana said.
Sparks dropped the first game to North Valleys in penalty kicks. Cesar Hernandez, the only freshman on the roster, scored in the first minute of his varsity career, then netted the equalizer with five minutes left in the second half. The Panthers won 5-4 in penalty kicks.
The second game wasn’t as close. Coronado scored thrice in the first half of a 3-0 win.
Both North Valleys and Coronado were playoff squads a year ago, and both fell in the playoffs to eventual state champion, Galena. North Valleys was 11-6-3, falling to the Grizzlies in the regional semifinals. Coronado went 18-4-1 before dropping the state title game to Galena in overtime, 2-1.
Sparks will look for its first won on Saturday with a pair of games against Bishop Manogue (11 a.m.) and South Tahoe (1 a.m.). Both will be at the South Valley Sports Complex.
Spanish Springs blanked
The Cougars started their season with a 1-0 non-league loss to Damonte Ranch at South Tahoe on Friday afternoon.
Spanish Springs will play two games tomorrow, also at South Tahoe, against Reed (1 p.m.) and host South Tahoe (7 p.m.).