The soccer team came up just short in its bid to capture the Metro League title, falling 2-1 to Blanchet on Thursday. The loss dropped the Spartans to third and set up a first-round playoff game on Monday at 3:30 p.m. at Memorial Stadium against Hale.
A win against Hale would set up a Wednesday afternoon game with Metro runner-up Seattle Prep. A loss would end the team’s season, which featured an undefeated April following an undistinguished 2-2-2 mark in March.
The season also featured what is likely a Spartan single-game scoring record in Tuesday’s last home appearance for the team’s eight seniors. Mitka von Reis Crooks scored every goal in the 5-0 win over Ballard and narrowly missed on several other shots.
He opened his scoring blitz in the 10th minute, taking a long pass from Kris Ley. He struck again less than two minutes later as he intercepted the Ballard goalie’s attempted clearing pass, dribbled around a defender and fired home a goal which gave the Spartans a 2-0 halftime lead.
Less than two minutes into the second half, Lawrence Ream drilled a pass down the middle which von Reis Crooks took in full flight, raced past the lone defender and picked up his hat trick.
Seven minutes Adam Brenneman fed him in the center of the penalty box and the defender fell down trying to keep with him. The goalie deflected his shot but von Reis Crooks hammered home the rebound.
Brenneman picked up his second assist midway through the half as he leaped over a defender while dribbling and crossed to von Reis Crooks, who somehow managed to direct the ball into the net as he was falling away from it.
“I don’t think I ever had five goals before, not even in youth soccer,” a happy von Reis Crooks said after the game, literally glowing in the late-afternoon sunlight.
The clouds rolled in, however, for the Blanchet game. The Braves took an early lead on a disputed goal following a throw-in. The linesman initially raised his flag to indicate offside, but after a conference with the referee the goal was allowed to stand. Blanchet scored again in the 20th minute to take a 2-0 halftime lead.
The Spartans came out hard to start the second half, with von Reis Crooks passing to Daniel Sackett for a chip shot over the goalie.
“We kept up the pressure after that,” said coach Alex von Reis Crooks, “but we just couldn’t finish.”
He praised goalie Eric Smith, who had had three straight shutouts.
“Eric had some great saves, which kept us in the game.”
Reflecting on the season, von Reis Crooks said that “We played in a highly competitive league and beat the top teams. There’s no argument that Metro is one of the top leagues in the state, one that sends its top teams deep into the playoffs. We hope to go there this year, but it’s hard, with six of the state’s best teams battling for three spots in the playoffs.”
Even though the Spartans defeated Hale two weeks ago, von Reis Crooks isn’t looking beyond the Raiders.
“It could be a problem because we go from grass from Astroturf, and very bad Astroturf as Memorial Stadium. It’s like a bad carpet that you’d have replaced if it were in your house.
“It’ll be a struggle in the playoffs because the competition is so good. It would be great to get out of it and go to state, but even if we don’t, it’s been a wonderful season.”