ELKO – The Spring Creek boys soccer team did not make the playoffs, nor did West Wendover – but one Spartan and a Wolverine found postseason company following the end of the Division 3A boys soccer season.
Spring Creek senior forward Mason Dixon managed to earn Division 3A 1st-Team All-North and 1st-Team All-State selections, the only player from non-postseason squads to earn the honors from the “A” league.
In fact, the 1st-Team All-League unit other than Dixon were only a who’s who of upper-echelon programs – all other nominations going to just three teams: regional champion and state runner-up Sparks, regional runner-up Truckee and North Tahoe.
Dixon led the Spartans during his final season on the pitch, both physically and mentally.
He scored a team-high 14 goals and also led Spring Creek with five assists, finishing fifth in the league in goals scored and fourth in total offense with 33 points.
One of the elder statesman of a relatively-young squad, Dixon combined performance on the field with experience and knowledge – showing the up-and-comers the type of grit needed to compete at the varsity level.
In soccer or hockey, a hat trick is impressive – scoring a near double-lid job is crazy.
On Sept. 22 on the road at Fallon, Dixon smoked home five goals against the Greenwave.
He notched two goals in the first half and added a hat trick in the second half alone, sparking a 9-0 victory, also making an assist.
Dixon added a true hat trick on Oct. 20 against Fallon in Spring Creek, scoring eight goals against the Greenwave in two games.
He used the winless Greenwave to his advantage, scoring more than half of his season total of points in the two contests with an absurd 11 points in the first meeting and six in the second.
West Wendover senior midfielder Raul Ruiz added his name to the list of 1st-Team All-State players, serving as the only athlete from the traditional Division 2A – the “B” league for soccer.
A returning all-league performer from 2016, Ruiz led a young bunch of Wolverines with 10 assists and nine goals.
Ruiz ranked second in the league in assists and tied for fifth in goals scored.
He scored two goals in each contest against Battle Mountain on Sept. 2 and Sept. 16, adding another two-goal game on Sept. 30 against White Pine.
Ruiz did not just score against the Longhorns; he shredded them with his passing – finishing the Sept. 2 contest with two goals and four assists – racking up eight points in one game.
He did the same to the Bobcats, posting another eight-point contest with four assists and two goals.
Two Spartans closed the year with 2nd-Team All-League selections; senior midfielder Ryan Miner and junior defender Samuel Claridge.
Miner scored three goals and made four assists on the season, providing a solid knowledge of the game in the middle for Spartans.
He also served as Spring Creek’s primary throw-in man on out-of-bounds plays.
Playing a position that does translate to statistical fame or glory, Claridge did his part in limiting the Spartans’ goals-allowed total to 46 for the season.
His backline defensive prowess made life easier for a team that had to use multiple goalkeepers due to injury, also aiding the growth of a freshman between the posts.
Miner and Claridge combined for the defender’s only goal of the season, Miner knocking a header off a corner kick and Claridge sending home the rebound in the Spartans’ final game of the year in a 2-1 victory on Oct. 23 in Elko – solidifying a season sweep of the Indians.
Three local talents earned honorable mentions for their performances during the season; two Elko Indians and a Spartan.
Elko senior forward Kevin Villegas and sophomore midfielder Natu Meles each earned recognition, as did Spring Creek freshman goalie Jacob Rios.
A shocking omission from the league awards was Elko senior David Young, who led the Indians with 17 goals and added five assists.
Aside from North Tahoe, which did not report stats, Young ranked second in the league in goals scored and total points (39).
Congratulations to Mason Dixon and Raul Ruiz on their 1st-Team All-State selections, Ryan Miner and Samuel Claridge for their 2nd-Team All-League nods and to all players who received nominations for the Division 3A North and 3A state boys soccer awards.