The North Tahoe soccer teams were put to the test in their Mount Rose League openers Tuesday.
The teams traveled to Sparks, where the boys lost 6-1 to the two-time defending state champs while the girls salvaged a 1-1 tie.
North Tahoe girls head coach Jon Rockwood said he was disappointed with his team's result, as the Lakers typically handle their larger league opponent. But the Railroaders improved significantly since last year, the coach said.
“In my four years of coaching, this is the strongest Sparks team yet. They are playing with more speed and better positioning,” Rockwood said. “Both teams played well and a tie is a reasonable outcome. Still, I believe that we are a much better team and I look for improvements in the weeks to come.”
The Railroaders took the early lead on a breakaway in the first half — a result of a lack of defensive communication, which allowed a Sparks player to slip through the Lakers' defense.
The score remained the same the rest of the half and most of the second. Finally, with less than 5 minutes remaining, Hannah Perkins buried a goal to knot the score at 1-1.
“While there were moments of solid play from our team, the result is disappointing,” Rockwood said. “We had many shots and opportunities. However, those opportunities need to be more threatening and we need to create chances inside their 18, which have a high probability of a goal. In order to achieve this, we need to become more aggressive and more goal-hungry — beat players one-on-one, play to space and simply move quicker with more passion.”
In the boys game, Sparks had 18 shots on goal in the first half, but only managed two goals against North Tahoe keeper Jose Chavez.
According to the Daily Sparks Tribune, about 15 minutes into the game, Chavez made three saves within a minute span. In the minutes that followed, he made two more saves and watched a couple Railroaders shots miss the mark.
Sparks drew first blood in the 22nd minute with a goal from Hector Hernandez. A minute later, Kevin Partida received a pass from Vicente Cervantes and scored the Railroaders' second goal.
In the 32nd minute, North Tahoe sliced the lead in half when a clear attempt was blocked and the net was left wide open for an easy goal.
The score remained 2-1 heading into halftime, but it only took two minutes for the home team to increase its advantage in the second half.
Partida assisted on an Oscar Gomez goal in the 42nd minute. Ruben Pacheco then scored back-to-back goals in the 58th and 62nd minute, extending the lead to 5-1.
In the closing minutes, Hernandez added his second goal for the final 6-1 margin.
— Information was used from the Daily Sparks Tribune.