The Stratford Boys Varsity Soccer Team extends its win streak to three games with a victory at Jersey Village on March 9th!
The Spartans were away on March 9th for the final district game vs Jersey Village, one of the top teams in the standings through the season. Jersey Village had the kickoff to start the game and had their first shot on goal less than two minutes into play. It was apparent from the start that Stratford was at least able to get some offensive penetrations despite consistent physical defensive pressure. The Spartans, motivated by the importance of the game, just seemed to be playing hard and hustling after chances. For the first 16 minutes, play was even with both teams mustering four offensive runs but no goals. No goals until Francies Galdino got the ball on the left side. He made a move to the center at the top of the penalty area and to the right of two defenders where he got off a shot that seemed to catch the Jersey Village goalie flat-footed. The goalie was late to react to the ball as it went in the goal on the right side. There might have been a deflection off one of the defenders at the top of the penalty area that contributed to the goalie’s reaction. In any case, it was good to get the early score. Stratford was able to get its share of chances through the end of the half. And some stalwart goalkeeping by Nick Hay kept Jersey Village off the board. The half ended with Stratford leading 1 – 0. Some may have regarded that situation with trepidation given the history of single goal leads through the second half. However, the Spartans seemed to get past that with the 1 – 0 win vs Cypress Falls in the previous game to break the curse of the early score. Hold on to the end soccer fans.
Stratford had the kickoff to start the second half and Max Werner got off a shot in the first minute of play. But that was one of only a few real chances that Stratford had in the half as the prospect of a loss energized Jersey Village. The Falcons managed to double the number of opportunities to score vs Stratford’s production. But the Stratford defense and continued solid goalkeeping by Nick Hay were up to the task of keeping the opponents scoreless. It was not until there were 13 minutes left in the game that Stratford had a scoring attempt with a Milan Jokic free-kick following a Jersey Village foul on Jack Manke. The free-kick was headed out by Jersey Village, but Stratford could not capitalize on the corner kick. Although Jersey Village had the edge on possession in the second half, most of their chances were just routine grabs for goalie Nick Hay. However, a Jersey Village shot with 17 minutes to go was headed right to the upper right corner of the Stratford goal. This required a great effort by Nick to cross the goal and leap to knock the ball clear. The ball went out for a Jersey Village corner which was cleared by the Spartans. With eleven minutes to go, Jersey Village had another corner attempt that bounced around too long in front of the goal giving an opponent player a volley shot that fortunately went right to Nick. And lastly, with 3 minutes to go, Jersey Village had a free kick dead center at the top of the penalty area. The shot initially looked high, but it knuckled down to hit the goal crossbar bouncing out so that the Spartans could clear the ball. Stratford was then able to disrupt the Jersey Village play enough to run out the clock for the win.
Stratford now waits for the playoff schedule in the wake of any Corona Virus disruptions. The Spartans have a good chance of finishing at the top of the table depending on the results of the Spring Woods vs Jersey Village game scheduled for March 16th. We will have to see what influence the soccer gods have on a pandemic.