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Saturday, Jun. 23, 2018
Overtime win provides Spartans with a sense of relief
by Randy Pascal

As Massimo Cimino rang a 49 yard field goal attempt directly off the middle of the crossbar Saturday night at the James Jerome Sports Complex, with the Sudbury Spartans and North Bay Bulldogs tied at six and just 1:49 remaining on the clock, one sensed that the early season frustration would be extending one more week for the local NFCers (Northern Football Conference).

Thankfully, Cimino and company would earn a shot at redemption.

On their second and final overtime sequence, the Spartans took advantage of a Bulldogs penalty, starting their drive on the North Bay twenty, and capping it off with a game-winning 21 yard FG from Cimino as Sudbury hit the victory column thanks to a 9-6 triumph.

That the contest was decided on a kick through the uprights seemed only fitting in a matchup where field goals, five in all, produced the only scoring on the evening.

The victory for the homeside also came exactly one week after their head coach, Junior Labrosse, unloaded on his crew following what he viewed as a far less than maximum effort against the Steel City Patriots in their 2017 home opener.

"I don't think it's about me yelling at them or getting angry," said Labrosse. "They're big men, they know. Sometimes a coach just has to let off once in a while, so the guys know you care about this team, you care about how they are playing."

And while Labrosse and others had praised the Spartans defence for their play in back to back losses to open the campaign, the group itself was pleased to be able to limit the opponents scoring after averaging more than 32 points against between weeks one and two.

"We have twelve of the best defensive players that I have ever played with," noted 11-year Spartans' veteran Matt Furino on Saturday. "The last two weeks, we've been playing a hard physical battle, but we've given up a lot of points, so we had to continue with our strong play and just not give up any points."

With the Sudbury offense still trying to find their collective footing, the reality is that a very impressive defensive unit enjoys precious little margin for error at the moment. From that standpoint alone, Furino and company would find no fault in the post-game explosion that followed the loss to the Patriots.

"The players took it well," he said. "There was a sense of urgency. If we didn't win today, we would be in a deep hole and our season would be in jeopardy. We just out to come out guns a blazing in all three facets of the game."

And while Labrosse fully recognizes the work in progress that is his current offensive formation, he was quick to acknowledge his appreciation of the energy that was displayed by his troops, right across the board.

"We didn't score an offensive touchdown, but the drives were there," he said. "There was time for the defence to rest. I'm extremely pleased with the effort the entire team put in. It's positive all the way around."

The Spartans are back at home again this coming Saturday, June 17th, as the Sarnia Imperials bring their record of 1-1 to town for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff. The Imperials opened the season with a 45-6 win over the Toronto Raiders, before seeing the tables turned in a 44-0 week two loss to the GTA All-Stars.

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