By Dylan Wilhelm • Of the News-Register • 

Stritzke among anchors on Mac back line

Rusty Rae/News-Register##
Rusty Rae/News-Register##
Rusty Rae/News-Register##Spencer Stritzke helps thwart an offensive chance in Mac’s September match against Lincoln. He hopes to continue playing soccer in college.
Rusty Rae/News-Register##Spencer Stritzke helps thwart an offensive chance in Mac’s September match against Lincoln. He hopes to continue playing soccer in college.

“He played a pivotal role in our defense and was also a great leader on the field,” Howard said. “We didn’t give up very many goals when Spencer was playing in our back line.”

One of 14 seniors on the Mac team this fall, Stritzke finished his high school soccer career alongside many players he has grown up with.

Stritzke said that growing up, they knew that they had a good chance of being a great team by their senior year.

While the Grizzlies suffered a 2-0 loss in the first round of the state playoffs, a game where the two goals came in the final five minutes, Stritzke said he was proud of how he and the team finished their careers together.

“It’s great to have a final season where, not just I did good, but we all did well,” Stritzke said. “Nice to know we didn’t concede a whole lot of goals. A couple games here and there, but we were a pretty good defensive team.

“I’m proud of myself, but I’m grateful for Howard and all the coaching.”

Gresham, the team that defeated Mac in the first round, went on to have a deep tournament run. After beating Mac, the 12th-seeded Gophers upset fifth-seeded McNary and fourth-seeded South Eugene before falling to the eventual champion, top-seeded Jesuit, in the semifinals.

While Stritzke supports the Timbers as the local professional soccer team, Stritzke noted his love for Barcelona and all soccer, adding how he’ll get up early and watch games during class whenever he can.

Of course, a love for Barcelona comes with a love for Lionel Messi, Stritzke’s favorite player and a player who has an excellent case for the greatest fútbol player of all-time.

We talked with Stritzke before Sunday’s epic World Cup Final, when he said that he would be rooting hard for Messi to claim the sport’s biggest prize, adding that he had no worries about getting up for the 7 a.m. kickoff.

Messi led Argentina to victory over France, scoring twice and converting a penalty in the deciding shootout, which the Argentines won 4-2 after the game finished deadlocked at 3-3.

As a defenseman, Stritzke doesn’t get the opportunity to convert scoring chances as often as a player like Messi, but says the thrill of defending can come close to matching it.

“Scoring is fun,” Stritzke said. “Sometimes as a defender, you really just want to go up and score. But also making that last-minute tackle is really fun too.”

As a unit, McMinnville defended well all season, allowing just 17 goals in 15 games, 13 of the 17 coming in the Grizzlies’ four losses. In the other 11 games, they allowed just four goals and went 9-0-2 in those 11 games. Over the course of the season, the Grizzlies shut out their opponent eight times.

Stritzke joked that there were some games where he and the rest of the back line didn’t need to do much, as the Grizzlies poured in goals and dominated possession offensively.

Off the pitch, Stritzke enjoys snowboarding, reading, and woodworking. He noted that while woodworking isn’t a common answer for favorite school subject, he enjoys the opportunity to be creative and build things.

As a senior, he has started to look at schools and wants to play soccer at the collegiate level, but he noted how he’s not sure what he wants to pursue for a career.

He does know he wants to stay relatively close to home, looking at schools in Oregon and Washington.

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