Having already won the Kitchener and District Soccer League men’s premier regular season championship, Stratford Bentley’s City FC added to its trophy case by winning the division’s playoff title with a 1-0 victory over Riverside FC Sunday in Kitchener.
“Regular season is a lot harder to win,” City FC striker Kurtis Bailey said. “Playoffs are only three games, but it’s a big win for us, especially the same year (as the regular season title). We’ve never won either.”
Bailey scored the lone goal early in the second half of Sunday’s victory. After outmuscling a Riverside defender, Bailey took a ball from Aap Inthasian and wired it over the keeper’s left arm and under the crossbar. Kyle Buxton earned the shutout.
“We played a pretty good game overall,” Bailey said. “We played well defensively and didn’t give them too many chances. A lot of their balls through to forwards went to Kyle. We could have scored a couple more ourselves but chances were either just offside or one too many passes.”
Just like the regular season championship was the club’s first in the KDSL’s premier division, so too was the playoff title. City FC was competing in the playoff final for the third time in five seasons. Stratford also made it to the quarter-final of the Ontario Cup.
“It was probably our best season start to finish the club has had since I’ve been around (for seven or eight years),” Bailey said.
City FC’s success in 2019 could have a lasting impact if it results in younger players joining the club once their youth soccer days are done.
“Hopefully it keeps kids, especially in the minor system knowing there’s somewhere to go when they’re done with the Strikers,” Bailey said. “We have a good, competitive team and league, and they don’t have to go out of town.”
Several of City FC’s players will transition to indoor soccer during the winter before reconvening in March to begin training as they begin defence of their titles.
“We’re a big fitness club to break teams down since we don’t have as much skill, but they don’t work as hard as we do, and hard work beats skill in a game like this,” Bailey said. “It’s always nice to win, but it’s better to try to win that title and try to repeat next year. I’m sure teams will come at us harder and not take us as lightly because we won both this year.”