The Jackson Lady Broncs won a come-from-behind thriller and a romp over the weekend to improve their record to 9-3, 7-3 on the season.
Jackson 3, Kelly Walsh 2 OT
The girls got a huge character-building win Friday when they fought back after surrendering a 1-0 lead to Kelly Walsh at the half.
Selah Hunter put Jackson up with 14:12 left in the first half. With a well-placed shot just inside the left post from 20 yards out. But the Lady Trojans responded with a pair of their own on seeing-eye shots that were just over the outstretched arms of keeper Sidney Nash and just under the crossbar.
“That seems to have happened a lot this year,” senior Melissa Kussy said. “These perfectly-placed shots that Sidney could do nothing about, really.”
As time wound down in regulation, Kelly Walsh nearly put a dagger in it with 2:35 left when defender Brooklyn Hills made a sliding tackle attempt that misfired and caused a 2-on-1 break for the Lady Trojans. Nash came out aggressively and made the save of the game while Hills raced back into the play to take away the rebound as Nash was sprawled helplessly on the ground.
Everyone on the Jackson side looked gassed but when Nash sent a booming kick toward midfield. It sent Taya McClennen into the box where she was intentionally fouled. The play resulted in a red card and a penalty kick. McClennen buried it with 46 second to play for the tie.
The overtime session was a bit of back-and-forth until Melissa Kussy stepped up off a corner kick for the game-winner.
“I was just running,” Kussy said, “and the ball kind of glanced of the side of my leg or something.”
Kussy said the win went a long way toward changing the mood of the club and boosting confidence.
“This whole week of practice has been weird. Team chemistry been a little off. But that win was big and had us playing with more confidence the next day,” she said.
Jackson 5, Natrona 1
The girls pressed the issue the following Saturday. As they have all season, McClennen and assist machine Phoebe Alva Rosa attacked the outside with speed, turned the corner, dribble drive the post until the defense sucks to them. Once they do, a centering pass to the waiting Hunter is usually in the back of the net.
After Hunter’s opening salvo put Jackson up 1-0 at the half, coach Kristen Pizarro reminded the girls what happened back on April 9 when a 1-0 lead turned into a 2-1 loss for the Lady Broncs after they relaxed a little.
“We knew we had the game and came out super strong,” Kussy said. “At the half, coach said not to repeat what happened last time. So, when they tied it, we came right back and killed their whole energy.”
The Lady Trojans did manage the equalizer early in the second half after Alva Rosa got her money’s worth on a foul. The ensuing free kick was another one of those floaters that found its way just under the bar and just over the outstretched fingers of Nash.
Alva Rosa appeared driven to get that goal back. She singlehandedly beat her mark to the corner, started up the goal line and scanned the pitch for her favorite go-to Hunter to make it 2-1.
Jackson’s 3rd goal came on a similar play, only this time it was McClennen looking to cross one in the box. Hunter was covered but Kussy saw the chance to step up and came sneaking in from the far side to blast one home. It’s Kussy’s feel for offense that makes the senior so dangerous. Knowing when to step up or stay back separates the average center midfielders from the great ones.
“Normally I try to stay back more to give us more shape and depth,” Kussy shared. “But once you see that wide open net and the clean lane, well, you are able to time it and come from so far back to arrive at the ball right on time.”
Hunter finished with 3 goals for the game. Alva Rosa added 2 assists. McClennen also had a goal and 3 assists.