It was not the opening the Truckee boys soccer team anticipated.
After conceding a goal five minutes into the match, the Wolverines rallied for three unanswered goals to drop Sparks, 3-1, to win the Northern Division I-A regional championship in Fallon on Saturday.
“We know it will always be a tough game against Sparks,” Truckee coach Casey Eberhardt said. “They scored within the first five minutes and there is still 75 minutes (left). That’s a long time.”
The Wolverines’ three scores all came in the second half thanks to an aggressive offense.
Truckee dodged several bullets in the first half and early in the second before finally breaking through in the 57th minute. Rolando Zarate came down the right side and flicked the ball past Sparks’ goalkeeper to tie the match at 1.
Ten minutes later, Eddie Cortez was fouled in the box to set up Thomas Arnstein’s penalty kick for a 2-1 lead. The Wolverines iced the match with five minutes remaining when Nick Oberriter buried a shot from close range.
Oberriter’s goal was set up off a blast from Arnstein, which Manuel Sarabia deflected before it found the boot of Oberriter.
“There was too much time to put our heads down,” Eberhardt said. “It showed as the game went on, our possession toward the end of the game opened up. We possessed and got the pressure on them.”
Truckee’s offense slowly but surely gained possession and kept firing shots on goal and wore down the Railroaders. A physical battle, the Wolverines were able to shut down Sparks’ attack with solid backline play, which opened up the midfield to counter on offense.
“It was getting pressure against their defenders early,” Eberhardt said. “We really did shut down Reuben (Pacheco) … and get in his head a little bit.”
But the Wolverines are chasing the bigger goal, a state championship. Last season Truckee was nipped, 1-0, by SECTA, which also defeated Sparks en route to its 2012 title.
“Last year we weren’t totally prepared for who we were playing from the South,” Eberhardt said. “We have to stay focused. Like I told them, remember what it was like to lose to them last year. It’s not the wins that’ll carry us, it’s the feeling of losing they don’t want to have.”
The top-seeded Wolverines will face Sunrise Mountain in the DI-A state semifinal in Dayton on Friday at 6 p.m. Sparks faces SECTA. The semifinal winners meet Saturday at 1 p.m. for the title.