Big, physical and athletic is how Truckee boys soccer coach Casey Eberhardt described the team that eliminated his Wolverines from the Division I-A state championship tournament in Henderson on Friday.
Southeast Career Technical Academy - aka, SECTA or Tech - a large school and first-year member of the Division I-A, edged Truckee 1-0 with a single goal after 77 minutes of evenly played soccer in the semifinal round.
The Roadrunners went on to defeat Sparks 3-2 the following day in the championship game, scoring two late goals with only 10 players on the field.
"Especially with how they (the Roadrunners) played against Sparks, I definitely applaud my kids' effort," Eberhardt said. "They played hard and left everything they had on the field. That's all you can really ask for."
SECTA midfielder Julio Del Real put in the go-ahead goal off of a free kick in the final minutes. Eberhardt said the Roadrunners sent the free kick into the box from near midfield. Truckee goalie Nacho Diaz charged the ball, which deflected off of a SECTA player directly to Del Real, who then kicked it into the vacated goal.
Weather conditions were not favorable for either team as the wind blew a steady 25 to 30 mph throughout the game, and directly north to south, which was the same way the field was oriented, Eberhardt said.
"Our strategy was to have wind on our side in first half, which we were able to do. And we created some opportunities; we just weren't able to put them away," Eberhardt said.
Playing into the stiff wind after the half put the Wolverines at a distinct disadvantage for the final 40 minutes, and they had trouble clearing the ball from their defensive end.
"We couldn't just kick it out because the wind would drop it, so we were trying to play it to our feet. But they were pretty quick," Eberhardt said.
The coach said Truckee players, particularly the 11 seniors, took the loss hard after entering the state tournament with high hopes as the North's No. 2 seed. The Wolverines finished the year 25-4 overall, with their only other losses coming against Sparks.
"It's always a goal to win a state championship, so when we come up short it's hard on the kids," Eberhardt said. "Especially the seniors on the team, they wanted a state championship this year. So it's unfortunate. They were pretty bummed. But looking back, we had a really good year. It's a great accomplishment to get to the state tournament."
SECTA capped a perfect season, at 23-0, with its shorthanded win over Sparks on Saturday.