Regular Season – March 12, 2021 (Northbrook)
The final game of the season came with Northbrook visiting the Spartans at home. It was a clear, warm Friday night before Spring Break with the wind out of the south. Northbrook took the opening kickoff going north. Let’s go right to the spoiler, the game ended in a tie 0 – 0. It was a somewhat fitting end to a roller coaster season that started with no wins, gave us four consecutive wins to lift playoff hopes and ended with losses to closeout those hopes. It would be one thing if the game was a rollicking affair punctuated by heart stopping near misses and moans from the crowd. But that was not this game. Play went up and down the field with the rhythm of a metronome and about 8 chances for each side. But neither team was able to find enough magic to convert for a score. Your humble reporter hates to use a baseball analogy, but it was much like a pitcher’s duel as both defenses handled the offensive incursions.
The second half was much like the first. Remember, it ended in a tie. Each side again mustered around 8 penetrations into the defense, but there were no memorable diving saves or balls off the cross bar. Stratford did not get its first shot on goal until ten minutes had passed. Thommaso Maule made a nice pass to Hamdan Al-Tuma, but the shot was wide left. There were some nice defensive plays by Matthew Ngo and Baba Ndaye as they sliced across the field to disrupt the Northbrook momentum. It was Baba’s first game back after a hand injury in the preseason. This was a great relief to the fans. Reed Howell also made some nice grabs in goal that stopped Northbrook in their tracks.
There are some great season memories of away wins vs Spring Woods and Memorial. But the defending District Champions will have to look to next year for more glory.
Well, soccer fans, this marks the end for your humble reporter. After eight consecutive years of following Stratford soccer, it is time to move on to the next phase. There are few things that compare to the emotional highs and lows that come with following our sons and daughter in competition. How can you not get wrapped up in their intensity, hard work and passion? We wish you and your families great success as you take on your new challenges. Go Stratford. Go Spartans.