A Brief History of the Chicago Sting: Part 7
1981-82 (Indoor): A dramatic and high scoring season saw the club top the Central Division pipping the Tampa Bay Rowdies to the title in the final game of the regular season. A then record attendance for an indoor soccer game in North America of 19,398 saw the Sting come from 8-4 down to beat the Rowdies 10-9 after sudden death overtime.
Chicago had topped the division for most of the season and remained undefeated in regular season play at the Chicago Stadium. Highlights en-route to the title included the 10-3 defeat of the Montreal Manic, a 10-4 victory over the Tulsa Roughnecks and a 6-3 win against the New York Cosmos at home while on the road impressive 6-3 and 6-5 wins were recorded against, respectively, the Toronto Blizzard and Jacksonville Teamen.
Even more impressive were the growing attendances at the Chicago Stadium where the Sting were outdrawing the Chicago Bulls (NBA) and fast catching up with the crowds pulled in by the Chicago Blackhawks (NHL). Besides the record crowd of 19,398 for the Tampa Bay Rowdies game, 18,374 saw the New York Cosmos game, 13,000 turned out for the regular season game against the Tulsa Roughnecks while 16,000 attended the playoff game against the Oklahoma side.
It was against the Roughnecks that the Sting made an unexpected and early exit from the playoffs having been widely tipped to add the indoor crown to the Soccer Bowl trophy won the previous summer. The Sting lost the best of three game opener in Tulsa 5-4 but in a dramatic return at the Chicago Stadium the Sting turned a 6-1 deficit into a 7-6 victory, Karl-Heinz Granitza scoring the winner five minutes into sudden death overtime.
With the series tied at one game each a 15 minute mini-game followed. The Roughnecks took a three goal lead, the Sting pulled a goal back but there was to be no dramatic comeback in this game as the Roughnecks advanced into round two of the playoffs with a 3-1 win to take the series by two games to one.
Karl-Heinz Granitza finished the season as the leagues second highest scorer (behind Julie Veee of the San Diego Sockers) with 35 goals and 36 assists. In the home game against the New York Cosmos on January 30th he scored a hat-trick, as the Sting won 5-3, extending his indoor scoring streak to 35 consecutive games. Three games earlier he had beaten the leagues existing record of 32 in the 6-5 overtime win against the Jacksonville Teamen.