ELKO – The Elko boys soccer team is heading to the regional final and the state tournament, thanks in large part to the left foot of right-footed senior Richard Adomako, who broke a 1-1 tie late in the match – with arguably the best play of the Indians’ season – definitely the most clutch.
Truckee began the game on the offensive, and the stingy Elko defense was on its heels as senior goalkeeper Alex Mora came up huge between the posts for the Indians, making several diving and leaping stops.
The Wolverines sent more shots toward the Elko goal in the first 20 minutes of the half than Mora typically sees in an entire game, but he managed to keep Truckee off the scoreboard.
Elko made several advances toward the Truckee goal in the later stages of the second half, many of the attempts resulting in corner kicks – but none of the headers or kicks found home – that is until the 32nd minute.
After wild sequence of back-and-forth, save, rebounds and loose balls, Elko sophomore David Young made an assist to junior Gabe Iguban, who gave the Indians a 1-0 lead with a shot from the left side of the box, beating the Truckee goalkeeper to his left side.
The goal gave the Indians and Elko fans a shot of life, energizing what had been a flat performance for spurts of the contest.
Elko kept Truckee at bay for the remainder of the half and took a 1-0 lead into the break.
The Indians came out strong to start the second period, possessing the ball and passing with purpose. Elko made great runs and had multiple chances to score – but once again – headers sailed wide, kicks missed their marks and the Truckee goalkeeper made some phenomenal saves – most notably a stop with his leg in a one-on-one with Elko senior Jonathan Young.
In a truly remarkable and playoff-fitting match, the tide once again turned to Truckee’s favor.
The Wolverines were awarded a penalty kick in the 59th minute after a handball call on Elko in the box. Whether or not the ball actually contacted senior defenseman Jose Curiel’s hand is open for discussion – but nonetheless – Truckee benefited and took advantage.
Truckee junior captain Manuel Sarabia made a strong kick to the net – and Mora guessed correctly, diving to his left – but the ball snuck past his outstretched palms by mere inches.
The Wolverines tied the game 1-1, and the push for a run to the state tournament began.
To Elko’s credit, the Indians did not lose their heads about the penalty or the score – pushing forward and fighting on.
The Indians threatened to score a few times with no success, but the biggest play of Elko’s year followed moments later.
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With a long assist from junior Jovany Meza, Adomako accepted the pass over his shoulder while running toward the box. He received the ball with his chest, settled it toward the ground and set off a rocket shot with his non-dominant, left leg.
The kick smashed the back of the net, sending the team and the local crowd into a goose-bump inducing frenzy, but more soccer had to be played with nine minutes remaining in the game.
Truckee fought for their playoff lives, making several presses offensively – threatening to score on multiple occasions. Mora made a huge save, but Truckee nearly knotted the score at 2-2 with a shot that barely missed wide to the right.
The Wolverines were awarded a corner kick, which resulted in a ferocious battle in front of the Elko net. The ball bounced off the heads of team from both players, settled to the ground, ricocheted off legs like a pinball and was finally cleared. The 10-second at maximum play seemed to take an eternity, but the Indians managed to walk away unharmed, essentially ending Truckee’s season.
Elko took the initiative to win possession, pass the ball around and nearly found the net for a 3-1 advantage as the Wolverines emptied the net. Senior Aram Villegas outraced the field, launched a shot and watched the ball trickle to the left of the goal. However, the only goal in soccer that matters is the one that breaks a tie and gives a team a win.
Adomako’s goal proved to be the difference, as the Indians fought out a 2-1 victory.
The Wolverines won the battle of shots, taking nine to Elko’s eight. The Indians attempted seven corner kicks, while limiting Truckee to just two.
Mora finished with eight saves for the Indians.
“I am very proud of the way we fought. We played extremely hard. We did not necessarily carry out our game plan as well as we could have, but it was enough,” said Elko coach Jim Nisbet. “We have to do a better job of settling the ball and passing to feet. We did not possess or pass the ball around as well as we need to. Defensively, you can bend but you can’t break. We bent as far as we could without snapping, but we held on. Truckee has a great program.”
Beating the defending state champions is a tall order – beating them three times in the same year is extremely tough. The Wolverines are not what they were last season, but Truckee is young – and the Wolverines showed great improvement throughout the year. The I-A North had better be aware of Truckee in 2016, and that is a promise.
Back to business for the Indians. Elko has little time to celebrate its first trip to the state tournament since 2011 and the first under coach Nisbet since 2005, when the Indians reached the state final and lost to South Tahoe.
Awaiting Elko in the regional final is undefeated Sparks – which won a wild, double-overtime contest over South Tahoe on Friday – netting the only goal of the game on a penalty kick by junior captain Genaro Vasquez.
The Indians will play the Railroaders for the regional crown at noon today at Adobe Middle School.