Taking it right down to the wire, Sparks held its own with Western of Las Vegas in the boys 3A state soccer semifinals Nov. 9.
The Railroaders scored a 2-2 game-tying goal in the final minute of regulation and sent the contest to overtime. Neither team scored in the first overtime, although both had their chances.
Then in the second overtime, Western’s junior fielder Mauricio Muniz took a pass down the left sideline, made a move past a Sparks defender and converted a goal from about 25 yards out giving the Warriors a 3-2 victory in the match at Bettye Wilson Park.
“We certainly do things the hard way,” said Western head coach Kory Pippin. “We gave up two easy goals, but we stayed in the fight. We just kept playing the next ball, not dwelling on the past.”
On Western’s first possession in the second overtime, Muniz made the game’s biggest play, outrunning the Railroader back line and blasted a shot past goalie Cruz Ramirez.
Sparks (18-5-2) opened the scoring six minutes into the game when Giovanni Lopez’s header past Francisco Corona gave the Railroaders a 1-0 lead.
But Western dominated the next 34 minutes of play, and got goals from Jose Muniz and Andy Rodriguez to take a 2-1 lead at halftime.
The Warriors appeared headed to the finals as time was clicking away in regulation, but Sparks had one final attempt and made it work
On a free kick, Marlon Monreal, who had assists on both Sparks goals, found Alex Cabrera, and his header went just over the outstretched arms of goalie Corona tying the match at 2-2.
In the first overtime, Western had two solid chances in odd-man rushes, but Ramirez came up with diving saves on both occasions.
Western (20-3-3) then went on to win their first ever state title with a 3-1 win over North Valleys (25-3) on Saturday. The Warriors had been runner up in 2016.