Star Valley stole one from our girls and that’s not a homer talking. An honest recap from SVI’s videostream coverage team pretty much admitted such as the Lady Broncs managed 23 shots on goal—some of them golden opportunities—but just could not solve Lady Braves keeper Addie Butler in a 1-0 loss on Thursday.
“I think we outplayed them but the score just didn’t reflect that,” said Jackson coach Kristen Pizarro, acknowledging that so often that’s the way the game of soccer can go.
The game was played in cold conditions with occasional snow flurries that had most Lady Broncs players hiding their hands up their sleeves but it was the home team Braves that had the ace card up theirs. And they waited until the 77th minute of the match to play it.
Star Valley played a classic rope-a-dope soccer game, falling back on defense, sometimes committing as many as 9 players back and triple teaming Jackson’s dangerous striker Selah Hunter. The Lady Braves used their athleticism to catch Jackson forwards on breakaways and when all else failed, Star Valley keeper Addie Butler did not. The senior made 16 saves—some of them absolute gems to keep the Lady Broncs off the board.
First half flurries
The first half was a battle of the midfield with the Broncs controlling the play for the most part. On the few times Star Valley generated a little offense steady defender Brooklyn Hills calmly turned the play the other way with a heady kick up field.
Then, late in the first half, Hunter and Piper Lee had prime scoring chances only to watch Butler turn their shots away. It was an omen of things to come for the final 40 minutes.
Jackson dominates second half
Jackson coach Kristen Pizarro turned up the heat in the second half as the Lady Broncs pressed and pressed, wearing a hole in the synthetic surface in Star Valley’s box.
Scoring chance followed scoring chance in a scoreless deadlock as Jackson did everything but put the biscuit in the basket.
With 34 minutes left, Hunter stole a Star Valley throw-in and fed a beautiful pass leading Hannah Freeze past two Star Valley defenders. Gentry Hendricks got back in time to hassle her a bit but the point-blank shot was stopped by Butler.
Minutes later, Melissa Kussy found a streaking Hunter with a pass just slightly behind her. Hunter adjusted and got off a good shot. But, again, there was Butler.
With 29 minutes to play, an attempted crossing pass from junior Phoebe Alva Rosa just failed to click with Hunter. A minute after that a turnover by Star Valley sent Freeze, Hunter, and Alva Rosa in on a 3-on-2 odd-man rush that almost resulted in a goal. Kussy followed up the play with a bomb that sailed wide left off a side-in from Hunter.
With 24 minutes to play, Natalie Joralemon—whose physical play on Amber Milne kept the Braves forward from doing much all match—tried to hit a streaking Freeze sneaking down the right side but the pass was broken up.
With Star Valley on their heels, the Lady Broncs came at them in waves.
With under 20 to play, Hunter tried to send Eva Flanagan up the right side but the lead pass was just out of her reach. Madison Kramer put the resulting corner kick right on the money, far post to Hunter who headed the ball over the crossbar.
Taya McClennen chipped one barely wide with 18 to play.
Again and again Jackson had golden chances to win put just could not finish. With a dozen minutes left in regulation the girls were beyond frustrated.
A nice through ball from Michelle Vargas Ramirez to McClennen sent her in alone but Butler came way out aggressively to smother the shot. The ball got away right to Kussy who fed it back to McClennen who had another pointblank shot stopped by Butler.
A perfect lob pass from Kussy, intended for Alva Rosa, was partially broken up by a Star Valley defender.
With 10:45 to play, the Lady Broncs stepped up the razzle-dazzle with a seeing eye pass from Kussy to Alva Rosa, who back-footed the ball blindly to a streaking Michelle Vargas Ramirez. Vargas Ramirez was caught from behind by Star Valley’s Emma Thompson, who denied the shot.
Emma Thompson’s perfectly placed winner
Then disaster struck. As often happens in soccer when a dominating team has the field tilted in their direction but fails to put away an opponent, well, they call it a “goal against the run of play.”
A Morgan Ducket foul led to a free kick from just inside the 20-yard line. It was close enough for Braves senior Emma Thompson to try a shot on goal but she could also look for a backdoor header from someone. She opted for a shot.
Thompson placed a 30-yard screamer top shelf, just under the crossbar where Jackson keeper Sidney Nash had no chance to reach it. With 4 minutes to play the impossible happened: Star Valley, who generated virtually no offense all game, had taken the lead.
The Broncs brought the house on the ensuing kickoff. McClennen slipped free for another chance right in front but a sprawling Butler snuffed it out. Hunter fired a 25-yarder that almost found the back of the net when Butler decided to use her foot rather than catch it and the ball took an odd bounce. Then a corner kick that nearly found the head of Idaly Quiroz.
In the end, it was not to be for the Lady Broncs. For the first time in recent memory—maybe ever—the Star Valley Braves defeated Jackson in girls soccer.
“It’s one of our biggest weaknesses this season is the inability to play our own game and to not let frustration take us out of our game,” Pizarro said. “Today was a good example of that. We had all kinds of chances. Plenty of opportunities to put the ball on the back of the net.”
Give Thompson credit for a perfect shot and Butler was spectacular, but the Lady Broncs let this one get away. With the loss, Jackson falls to 5-2 on the season. Star Valley improves to 2-3-1.