SPRING CREEK — The Spring Creek boys soccer team needed a win.
Following their first-ever win against Truckee in the league opener on Aug. 30, the Spartans followed with four straight games without finding the win column — three going for losses, the other a tie.
Spring Creek began its home stand Friday with a 5-0 loss to Division 3A North perennial-power Sparks, the Railroaders notching all of their goals in the first half, the Spartans pitching a clean defensive effort in the second half — setting the tone for Saturday’s game against North Valleys.
Against the Panthers, Spring Creek bounced back into the win column with a 2-1 victory.
The Spartans commanded the action and the flow of the contest from the onset, finding the go-ahead goal early.
In the 10th minute, Spring Creek put North Valleys on its heels with effective passing.
Junior goalkeeper Jacob Rios sent the ball downfield to junior Alex Estrada, who crossed a pass from the right-forward position to senior left forward Cade Carson.
Carson beat the Panthers’ goalie across his face with a shot to the far-right post for a 1-0 lead.
Spring Creek head coach Tanner Rios said the Spartans did a good job defensively, only allowing three or four shots in the first half.
However, one attempt was thumped — Jacob Rios preserving the one-goal advantage with a good save in the 15th minute.
The Spartans changed up their look, flipping Estrada to the left side and Carson moving to the right.
Carson wound up with a one-on-one with the goalie, who came out of the frame and collided with Carson.
“Their goalie got hurt on the play, so that was a bad thing for them,” coach Rios said. “The game stopped for about four minutes. We kept pressing and gave ourselves a better chance to win the ball and break away. That was the difference in the game for us, our pressure.”
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Early in the second half, Spring Creek nearly took a 2-0 lead on a direct kick.
Junior Patrick Pemelton — who figured to be a main component of the Spartans’ defense this season — has been given more offensive opportunities.
“Pat is a good defender, but we have our defense pretty set. He was injured early in the year, but he has some offensive skills,” Rios said. “He’s short but he has some power on his shots.”
From a direct kick with the goalie out of the posts, Pemelton’s boomer narrowly missed.
However, Spring Creek eventually converted for a two-goal cushion.
As the goalkeeper came out of the frame once again, Estrada lifted a shot in the top corner of the frame.
Spring Creek’s defense remained stingy, North Valleys needing a penalty to score.
In the 70th minute, the Panthers were awarded a PK — senior Gavin Owens thumping his kick into the net.
“He’s a good player, but he was shut down for most of the game,” Rios said. “I put Noah (Rice) on him, and he did a great job. That was one of the best games I have seen Noah play. Without the PK, we shut them out.”
Carson and Estrada’s goals, combined with the defense, gave the Spartans a much-needed win after a two-week span without a victory.
Spring Creek improved to 2-3-1 in the Division 3A North, dropping North Valleys to 2-3-1 in league play — the Spartans now owning the head-to-head tiebreaker should once occur.
The Spartans will take to the road for their next contest, playing against Lowry (4-2-1 in league) at 5 p.m. Tuesday, in Winnemucca.