On Saturday, the weather definitely played a factor.
With the wind at their backs, the Lady Spartans did not score enough before intermission — taking a 1-0 lead — the conditions getting progressively worse in the second half, North Valleys capitalizing and pulling off a 2-2 tie.
Early in the contest, Spring Creek possessed the ball with regularity — often working cross action from the wings to the middle of the field.
On the other side, junior goalie Betsy Fellow was challenged infrequently — making a stop each time a shot was sent her way.
Senior Kattalin Lopategui had several chances to score for Spring Creek, kicks either sailing high or flying wide.
However, the Lady Panthers were called for a handball just outside the penalty box.
Lopategui took the direct kick, a perfectly-placed ball going over North Valleys’ wall and then dropping into the lower-left corner of the frame in the 16th minute for a 1-0 advantage.
On the right wing, sophomore Payge Walz beat her defender down the field and kicked a shot but the North Valleys goalie slid over for the stop.
Spring Creek did not take advantage of several corner kicks, the Lady Panthers surviving multiple deflections and numerous attempts during one crazy exchange.
From the wing, junior Chloe Zuraff found another attempt — the shot saved by the keeper.
North Valleys nearly tied the game with a direct kick, the shot beating everyone but narrowly sliding left and outside the upright.
Later in the half, Lopategui took a direct kick for the Lady Spartans — the ball going beyond the end line.
Senior Ashton Moon kicked a shot wide to the left of the frame, and Lopategui volleyed a shot wide out of the air — freshman Taylor Brunson saving the ball from going out of bounds.
After 40 minutes, the Lady Spartans found an abundance of chances but only netted one.
In the second half, wind speeds reached incredible numbers — the rain driving harder and with larger drops.
Both the wind and the rain pounded Spring Creek in the face, North Valleys riding the waves at their backs.
Fellows fell under fire, the Lady Panthers taking and nearly making shot after shot — Spring Creek’s defense weakening under pressure.
Between the posts, Fellows did what she could — scooping and batting away what had to have been north of a half-dozen shots in short order.
Although, she could not do anything about the shot that changed the complexion of the contest.
On a corner kick, North Valleys’ No. 11 booted the shot from the flag.
As the ball approached the box in the cross wind, nature took control.
The wind bent the ball to the left, Fellows reacting quickly and getting a hand on the shot with a nice reaction.
However, the wet ball slipped around the upright and off Fellows’ glove and tickled the twine.
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The score was tied at 1-1.
After playing the majority of the half on the wrong side of the field, Spring Creek made and adjustment — finally figuring out that advancing the ball in the air was an impossible task.
Instead of watching kicks fly high and warp back toward where they were kicked, the Lady Spartans kept the ball on the ground — progressively working toward the Lady Panthers’ goal.
The change in field position paid off, coming from a direct kick from the right wing.
Sophomore Shyann Lamb stung the ball as best she could into the heavy headwind, her kick working around the right side of North Valleys’ wall.
As the shot neared the goal, it dropped low and bounced just off the top of the grass.
Instead of picking up the ball with her hands, the keeper tried to play it with her foot — missing the kick — the shot trickling into the lower-right side of the frame.
Spring Creek took a 2-1 lead.
As quickly as the Lady Spartans appeared to find some breathing room, a defensive letdown sucked the air out of the lungs.
In the 76th minute, a kick from the right wing toward the middle was collected on the fly — No. 9 running straight past a standing defender.
Immediately taking the shot, she screamed a tailwind-aided rope into the upper-left side of the net — Fellows with no chance of recovering from her left to the opposite corner.
The Lady Panthers staved off a loss with a pair of second-half goals, forcing a 2-2 tie.
“We didn’t do what we needed to do. We should have scored more in the first half, and we watched girls shoot in the second half,” said Spring Creek coach Kami Crowe. “It sucks to be in the wind and the rain, but we couldn’t allow them to take that many shots. Betsy had no chance. We might have cost ourselves a spot in the playoffs.”
Spring Creek’s record moved to 6-5-4 in the Division 3A North, but Incline (6-6-3) unexpectedly fell Saturday by a 2-0 score at Fallon (3-9-2 in league) — the Lady Spartans currently possessing the fifth and final postseason berth from the “A” league.
On Friday, Spring Creek kicked off its weekend home stand with a 3-0 victory over Sparks.
The Lady Spartans dominated the action, firing 13 shots and only allowing six attempts from Lady Railroaders — Fellows saving every ball.
Spring Creek took control early, scoring two goals in a two-minute span.
In the 13th minute, freshman Elley Dilworth scored from a corner kick — heading the ball into the frame — Lopategui making the assist.
The lead went to 2-0 in the 15th minute, Dilworth turning from scorer to passer.
She dished an assist to Zuraff for a goal inside the 18-yard box.
Spring Creek pushed the advantage to 3-0 in the 70th minute, junior Harper Wines volleying a ball inside the box.
The Lady Spartans will play Lowry (0-13-2 in league) at 4 p.m. Tuesday, in Winnemucca.