By Patrick Dillon @PDillon_SGN
STRATHMORE– The Spartans use to be synonymous with bringing home titles between the 2014-2016. But since they met their demise in the 2017 Division VI Valley Championship game at the hands of the Kingsburg Vikings the program has fallen on hard times.
“It will be more difficult to match up with these bigger schools,” Strathmore head coach Hector Gonzales said. “We don’t have as strong of a team as we’ve had in the past.”
The thin selection of available seasoned players has left Gonzales with only five players with club ball experience. The rest of his 20-player roster are all new to the game, let alone the varsity level.
“It is going to take a little bit longer to get going,” Gonzales said.
Strathmore’s (2-4, 1-1) lack of experience was evident last Wednesday as they played catch-up most of the night against Monache (9-8-1). On a Monache counter Jiselle Batres attacked up the far side of the field and scored on a kick to the near side post in the third minute.
While, Strathmore was one step behind all night they were able to even the score in the eighth minute. Izabella Baez, consider by coach Gonzales as the Spartans’ best player, kicked the ball from the top of the penalty box. It traveled up and over the Monarch goal keepers head and across the goal line.
“[Izabella] is head and heels our best player,” Gonzales said.
Gonzales has put a lot on the shoulders of his junior standout, but it has begun to pay dividends. Baez’s extended playing time means more time to hone her already impressive skills. At times Baez had to fend off three Monache defenders in order to maintain possession.
Baez’s extended playing time has also helped a lot of Strathmore’s younger players develop according to Gonzales.
Still, the individual effort of one player was not enough in the second half. Batres scored again on a turnover when Strathmore failed to clear the zone in the 13th minute.
Strathmore finished up non-league play at the Kingsburg Vikings on Friday and lost 7-0.
Last night, the Spartans returned to East Sequoia League competition at the Farmersville Aztecs. Results were reached after press time.
“Against schools similar to our size in league, we will be okay,” Gonzales said.