Sparta's girls soccer comes off strong year

| 20 Nov 2017 | 05:30

By Josh Lashley
Team work was a key component for the Sparta High School girls soccer team this fall-and it took them far against some very strong opposition.
The Spartans tallied a fine overall record of 12-7-1 and they were impressive at 7-1 in the Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference American Division. Beyond those noteworthy accomplishments, they advanced far into the competitive NJSIAA North 1 Group 2 Sectional Tournament.
As the No. 9 seed in the competitive North 1 Group 2 bracket, they topped eighth seeded Newton (2-1 in the pre-quarterfinal round), eye openly No. 1 seed Lakeland (2-2, 3-0 shootout victory, quarterfinals) and fifth seeded Kittatinny (1-0 in the semifinals).
In the championship round of the North 1 Group 2 Sectional Tournament, they were defeated by Westwood by a score of 1-0.
Caitlyn Botti, the head coach for Sparta vividly recalls some of the most memorable moments from the recently ended season.
“There were many important contests throughout the season, but most notable were the Lakeland game (on November 2) and the second Pope John game (on October 25),’’ Botti said. “In the Lakeland game, we came in as a nine seed and played the one seed and we took them to penalties. The excitement of the game and the way our kids fought in that particular match was memorable. Pope John is our cross town rival and it's always a battle playing them. We had lost to them earlier in the season, so it was an incredible feeling to get the win in our second match up with them.’’
Leadership was there aplenty for the Spartans during the 2017 season.
“What I loved about this particular season was that everyone stepped up,’’ Botti said. “Goals were scored by a variety of players, each one coming up big for us at crucial times. Our defense changed throughout the season, with different players stepping up at different times to make game saving plays.
“I think we can say with confidence that everyone showed improvement, not just individually, but in the way that they played together this season. We were proud of the progress that we made and feel that the team really came together over the three months that we worked together.’’
This was a memorable season for Sparta, but 2018 should be as well.
“While we lose some fantastic seniors, I am excited that we were able to develop a squad that will mostly be returning next year,’’ Botti said.