Spartans win fifth straight in wild shootout
Coming into their Friday matchup, both East Ascension and McKinley were putting up big numbers offensively. Each team averaged three goals per game.
On paper, it looked like Spartan fans could be in for an offensive explosion, and that's exactly what they got.
After just one goal was scored in the first half, the offenses took over the final 40 minutes, scoring a combined seven in a wild shootout that East Ascension was able to win by a score of 5-3.
"Our offense has always been something that we can rely on. That's how we work," Spartan head coach Michael Zanco said. "If we're going to pick a part of the field, then we're going to pick the attacking third, because we can count on our offensive players anywhere. They're not just great at attacking, but they're great at finding our mids and they're great at coming in and recovering. It's nice that our offense always stays composed and does their job."
The scoring began early. Eight minutes into the game, Cooper Adams scored off of a deflected shot in front of the goal to give East Ascension a 1-0 lead.
The Spartans had plenty of opportunities to extend the advantage in the first half, but they just couldn't finish at the net.
On three separate occasions, Alex Phelps was in the clear inside the box with great looks at the goal, but his shots were off. His final attempt went over the goal inside of two minutes remaining.
East Ascension carried the 1-0 lead into the break.
Like the first half, the Spartans started fast in the second. Just four minutes in, Adams dished out a nice pass to Simon Leclercq in the corner, and his shot couldn't be corralled by the goalkeeper.
It appeared the Spartans were ready to run away with the game as they led 2-0, but just three minutes later, McKinley cut the lead in half.
In the 56th minute, East Ascension goalkeeper Casper Crehan was a little too lax when trying to pick up a ball in the box. McKinley took advantage and kicked one into the open net to tie the game.
The Spartans answered just four minutes later when Ben Leboeuf launched a beautiful throw-in that Leclercq sent in for a goal that regained the lead for East Ascension.
But McKinley didn't go away. Just two minutes after falling behind, they tied things up once again.
From there, it was all East Ascension.
With the score tied in the 73rd minute, Leclercq came up with a nice cross to Aleks Mondragon, and he finished for the goal to give the Spartans the 4-3 lead.
And less than a minute later, Mondragon put the finishing touches on the East Ascension victory with his second goal.
East Ascension had 20 shots for the game. Leclercq led the way with two goals and an assist.
After being held to just two shots and no goals in the first half, McKinley got off nine shots and scored three times in the final 40 minutes.
"McKinley has some amazing players and a really great coach. I think their offense is just as reliable for them as ours was for us tonight," Zanco said. "They made all the right fixes. I really respect every decision their coach made, and I respect every single one of their players. They came through. We had a couple of errors, but good teams force errors. They put so much pressure on us. It was a great game, because it was two really good offensive teams."
The win was the fifth straight for East Ascension as they improved to 7-1-1 overall.
"We've been fixing the little things that create big problems," Zanco said. "We never give up. Unfortunately, in almost every game, we've gone under, but we don't give up. They're a hard-working group."