Spartans hold off Plainsmen in semifinal
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First, the Neelin Spartans overcame Mother Nature. Then, and only then, could they tackle the Crocus Plainsmen.
The hosts battled through 35 minutes into a 50-kilometre-per-hour wind, then struck twice with it at their backs for a 2-0 victory in the Brandon High School Soccer League girls’ semifinal on Tuesday afternoon.
“We would kick the ball as hard as we could and it’d go right behind our heads,” Neelin sophomore striker Kyra Memryk said. “Yeah, it was interesting.”
The first half was on goalkeeper Beth Wilson and the Spartans’ backline. Crocus pressed and generated a few quality scoring chances, none bigger than when Anu Akinbode intercepted Wilson’s goal kick and cut towards the net, firing a shot the senior keeper narrowly kicked aside 20 minutes in.
The Plainsmen sprung Riley Porterfield on a breakaway just before the half but she slipped a shot just inches wide of the right post.
Memryk opened the scoring 44 minutes in, collecting a cross and driving it home from 12 yards out.
“It felt so awesome, I almost cried I was so happy,” Memryk said.
She wasn’t done there. Memryk cut down the left side and drew a hard foul just outside the Plainsmen penalty area near the hour mark.
Centre-back Maci Hlady, who made a few timely plays to keep it scoreless, struck the free kick perfectly, curling it into the top right corner to make it 2-0. She celebrated with her teammates and jogged back to play 14 minutes of lockdown defence before a joyous final whistle.
“It felt great because Grade 12 year, it was nice to have a win,” Wilson said. “I had to miss some of the games for other sports and other commitments so it was really good to get out again.
“Our defence was doing amazing. I only touched the ball a few times and that’s almost a good thing when you don’t get a lot of playtime (on the ball) as a goalie.”
Wilson hasn’t seen the top-seed Vincent Massey Vikings yet, but everyone knows they’re the team to beat after a perfect regular season.
They host the Spartans on Thursday at 4:30 p.m., for the city title and trip to provincials on June 2-3 in Steinbach.
On the boys’ side, Massey hosts Crocus in the final today at 4:30 p.m.
» Twitter: @thomasmfriesen