SPARKS – Entering an uphill battle of a road trip against two solid programs, Spring Creek boys soccer coach Leaf Knotts said his team’s goal was to “have a positive result of a win or at least a tie.”
The Spartans lost Friday to Truckee by a final score of 4-1, coming up on the short end of a 1-0 ballgame Saturday against defending state champion Sparks.
Spring Creek hung with the Wolverines for 40 minutes; the score knotted 0-0 at the break.
Following the halftime period, Truckee tallied a goal four minutes into the second half.
The Wolverines began to operate with efficiency on the offensive side of the ball, adding two more goals and extending to a 3-0 advantage.
The Spartans tallied their only goal of the game in the 67th minute, senior Ryan Miner collecting and cleaning up a deflection on a free kick by senior Mason Dixon.
Truckee regained the goal with one of its own on a free kick in the 76th minute, gaining a 4-1 victory.
“I think we got tired and fatigued in the second half. We played them even in the first half, but Truckee kept its foot on the gas pedal the whole time,” Knotts said. “They look really good.”
Knotts said the game plan was to turn Saturday’s contest in Sparks into a “defensive battle.”
Job accomplished, but Spring creek could not mount offense of its own and lost 1-0.
The Spartans’ defense gummed up the middle and limited the Railroaders’ clean looks at the frame, holding Sparks to just seven on-goal shots.
“They were getting frustrated. Their coach was frustrated because all of their shots came from outside the box,” Knotts said.
The difference in the contest came down to corner kicks – Spring Creek giving up 15 attempts from the flag – one costing the Spartans dearly.
In the 68th minute, the Railroaders benefited from what Knotts called a “ping-pong ball” on a corner kick, knocking home the game-winner.
“The ball pinged around and deflected back multiple times. They took several shots and the last one bounced off the goalie, hit the post and bounced in,” he said. “We played a very good game defensively for the most part, but you can’t give up 15 corner kicks and expect to win.”
Knotts said the Spartans gave up a lot of possessions in order to focus on the defensive aspect of the game, but in turn, Spring Creek was unable to come up with the equalizer in the final 12 minutes of regulation.
Sparks escaped with a 1-0 victory, taking away a potential point for a tie from Spring Creek.
The Spartans will return home and take on Incline (3-7) at 4 p.m. Friday in Spring Creek, the team Spring Creek beat 5-1 on Sept. 15 in Incline for the Spartans’ first win in league play, but Knotts expects a more difficult game the second time around.
“Incline is turning on the heat a little bit. They have won their last three games and beat Lowry 4-3 in Winnemucca and beat South Tahoe 2-1 on Monday,” Knotts said. “I think they had a couple guys out the first time we played them. They are healthier now and playing better soccer.”
Spring Creek (4-5-2) will close its weekend with a home game at noon Saturday against undefeated (10-0) North Tahoe.
“We will work a lot on our touches and transitioning to offense. Our touches have really hurt us,” Knotts said. “We will also work on our decision making with the ball. We have been rushing things with one-touch passes and committing way too many turnovers, which is really frustrating.”