Sometimes high school soccer can be overly safe and defensive, with most of the game played in the middle neutral third. At times it can devolve into a bunch of throw-ins. Other times the skill may not be there, so the ball just bounces around a lot out of control. Sometimes one team is just too good for the other team, making it non-competitive. Sometimes, in all honesty, high school soccer can be boring.
But, holy smokes, not this past Tuesday when your Spartans travelled to Alexander Galt to take on the Pipers in our first away game of the season. What a game!
Starting around the turn of this century, Stanstead and Galt have been battling for ETIAC supremacy. With very rare exceptions, it’s been a Spartan or a Piper holding the championship trophy aloft at season’s end. So getting off the bus and walking into the Galt visitors’ locker room, we knew 1) what was at stake, and 2) how tough this game was going to be.
But we didn’t foresee that it was going to be one of the most intense, exciting, back-and-forth, skillful games in recent memory. It seemed like someone was threatening to score every minute, with both teams trying to possess and build the play, but ALSO ready to counterattack at the slightest opportunity. Galt likes to tic-tac-toe pass the ball. So do we. We love to send missile-like crosses into the box. So do they. They have a player so dangerous that she can go end to end and score at any moment. So do we. We gave everything we had, with most of us limping off the field with some sort of exhaustion-related pain after 80 grueling minutes. So did Galt. It was the beauty of sport. Two evenly matched teams playing well and digging their deepest at the same time. It’s why we play soccer at all, for games like this.
In the end, the Red & White prevailed with a scintillating no-gas-left-in-the-tank 3-2 victory, putting us in the driver’s seat for the banner. Highlights? I’m glad you asked!
Avah St-Pierre and ValerieLin engaging dangerous Piper strikers, dispossessing them, coming out with the ball, and making the proper play the other way, so tough to do and SO GOOD.
VivianneSuverza’s first half, when she was constantly on the ball. When Vivianne is properly positioned, she seriously impacts the game.
Speaking of impact, AddyPierce put an indelible mark on the game in the first half, winning the ball in midfield, finding space, and sending dangerous balls through the Galt defense.
Play Of The Game #1: Carolyn Berkling-Drouin smartly taking a quick throw-in to LanaPeasley, who finds JanaLoparic inside, who hits Addy in stride, who takes a touch and then buries a rocket top corner for the first goal of the game – TIC TAC WHOA!
The offensive tight-passing-in-a-phone-booth construction we were getting up the left side that resulted in great CamrynMoore cross after great Camryn Moore cross, finally resulting in a deflected own goal by Galt to make it 2-0 (followed by the Worst Goal Celebration Ever – you could’ve heard a pin drop! So weird! What, were we embarrassed? Did we feel SORRY for them?).
Play Of The Game #2: After Galt cut the lead in half, right from the restart, Jana sends it back to Natalia Chenier, who give-n-goes with GloriaRiddell, and then proceeds to dribble the entire half of the field, deking out FIVE Galt players on the way, all the way into the 18, and then fires a laser into the top corner! The Chenier Show indeed! Check out this classic Diego Maradona highlight and tell me it doesn’t remind you of it! Maradona solo goal vs England 1986 | 4K UHD upscaled - YouTube .
For the first time ever, I’m giving the third Play Of The Game to an opponent, to Galt’s #12, who unassisted ripped right through our midfield and, very similar to Natalia’s goal above, and under intense defensive pressure, somehow rifled a bullet into our top corner that Maddie had zero chance on. That cut our lead to 3-2, with 15 min left and exhaustion setting in.
And that’s when Jana Loparic, despite extreme fatigue and an ailing back, somehow found it within herself to be a one-woman forechecking crew, almost single-handedly hounding the Galt defenders and keeping the ball in their defensive end. When the Galt coach told me afterwards how impressed he was by our stamina and fitness, I know he was talking about Jana and those final minutes of the game.
So final score 3-2 for the good gals, and we couldn’t have started the ETIAC season much better. Is the job finished? Of course not. Is there anything left for us to improve upon? Omigod, yes! But a soccer season is not just a destination, it’s a JOURNEY, and we’ve got to TAKE THE TIME to ENJOY the great things – and the great games – that happen along the way.