ELKO – The Lady Indians picked up a must needed-win in the soccer scene of the Division 3A North standings Friday, despite not playing a very clean game.
Elko defeated the Lady Railroaders of Sparks for the second time in league play and third this season, scoring all goals in the second half for a 3-1 victory.
The Lady Indians had numerous opportunities to notch goals in the first half, dominating possession and pushing the issue.
However, Elko was not connecting its passes and also missing shots.
Sophomore Kaitlyn Walton, senior Aspen Fordin and junior Brenna Hendrix found the most offensive chances for the Lady Indians.
Midway through the half, Elko missed out on a golden opportunity on a corner kick.
Sophomore Dariahn Primeaux sent a beautiful shot from the corner, the Lady Indians missed a header, grabbed the rebound and missed a kick that sailed through the defense, missing multiple opposite-side looks on an empty net.
Another corner kick nearly resulted in a netted ball when junior Jimena Murillo made a perfect run, timed her jump correctly and headed the ball over the crossbar.
First touches were sloppy by both teams, and as Elko progressed deeper into the half after not putting balls in the net, the Lady Indians look panicked and reverted back to bad habits.
Most notably, Elko started playing kickball.
The Lady Indians would gain possession, turn and just kick a long ball to nobody.
The game went to halftime a scoreless tie.
Elko once again dominated the pace of play and field position to start the half, but the Lady Indians struggled to finish.
The Lady Indians finally broke the drought six minutes into the half after numerous opportunities.
Walton sent a shot from the left side that was deflected back toward the middle of the box.
Fordin collected the rebound and punched a shot into the right half of the frame for a 1-0 lead.
Elko’s defense became more scattered and out of position as the half progressed, allowing Sparks’ players to either dribble through and around defenders or make turns and get away kicks.
Senior goalkeeper Lauryn Drake made some big stops to preserve Elko’s one-goal lead, but the Lady Railroaders started to find more corner kicks, not cashing in for the game-tying goal.
After 73 minutes of play provided one goal, the final seven minutes became way more interesting.
Sparks was called for a foul on a dribble drive by Hendrix after a pass from Fordin in the right side of the box.
Fordin lined up for the penalty kick and beat the goalie to her right, giving the Lady Indians a 2-0 lead with a line-drive ball in the left side of the net.
The Lady Railroaders cut the lead in half just two minutes later.
A pass was sent from the left wing to the center of the field and Elko was called for a foul outside of the box that was ruled inside the line, giving Sparks a PK of its own.
Senior captain Angelica Hurtado tore a page from Fordin’s playbook and snuck a shot inside the left upright, cutting the deficit to 2-1.
With the game still much in the balance, Hendrix came up big for Elko.
She dribbled down the left-side of the field, absorbed contact and fired a solid, left-footed kick into the upper-right side of the net in the 78th minute.
Elko extended to a two-goal lead and won the match 3-1.
The Lady Indians took 11 shots, limiting Sparks to two on-goal looks.
Drake closed the game with five saves for Elko.
Fordin tallied two of Elko’s three goals and Hendrix added the final blow.
“We got away from the little things, the simple things. I’m looking for short, clean passes,” said Elko coach Michelle Nicholls. “We started to panic and play the long ball. We have to play a better game against Truckee.”
The Lady Indians improved to 4-5 in the 3A North, dropping the Lady Railroaders to 1-7-1 in league play.
Elko will take on defending state champion Truckee at noon Saturday at Adobe Middle School.