Freshman striker Taya McClennen notched 4 goals to help propel the Jackson Lady Broncs (13-4) past Cheyenne Central (11-4) to begin state play. The 5-3 quarterfinal victory over Central moves the girls on to the semifinal round where they will face Rock Springs (13-2) on Friday.
Jackson came into state as the #3 ranked team out of the 4A West. That pitted the Lady Broncs against #2 ranked Central from the East.
The Lady Broncs wasted no time jumping on the Indians. Less than 8 minutes in Selah Hunter fed a beautiful throughball to a streaking Taya McClennen who slid it neatly past the Indian keeper for a 1-0 lead with 32:36 left in the 1st half.
The lead didn’t last long. Minutes later a foul in the box gave Central a penalty kick from point blank. It slid just under a sprawling Sydney Nash for a 1-1 tie less than nine minutes into the contest.
Undaunted, the Lady Broncs regained their 1-goal lead with 20:24 left in the half on a goal from Hunter.
But Central had an answer just minutes later off a free kick from 25 yards out after Brooklyn Hills interfered with a Lady Indian in the box. The kick was perfectly placed over the head of Nash and under the crossbar for a 2-2 tie with 11:27 left in the opening half.
This was going to be a barnburner!
Jackson’s go-ahead marker came with 6:55 left in the 1st half after strong play in the middle from Melissa Kussy got the flow headed toward the Central net. Again, it was Hunter who drew a defender to her and then fed a crossing pass to McClennen who just did get off a shot that trickled in past a charging keeper for a 3-2 lead.
McClennen was mobbed by her teammates before she could even get up off the artificial turf.
The 3-2 Jackson lead would hold up at the half.
Less than six minutes into the 2nd half an aggressive step up by junior defender Lohman Maylia kept the offensive pressure alive and allowed a golden opportunity for Kussy, whose shot went wide but resulted in a corner kick.
More pressure, another foul in the box and another penalty kick. This time it was McClennen with her 3rd of the game. But wait. Officials ruled the shot no good and McClennen had to do it again. She did. Same result. Goal, and 4-2 Jackson.
But Central wasn’t finished yet. The Indians struck with 28:53 left in regulation to draw within a goal.
A tense 24 minutes of back-and-forth soccer finally culminated in a McClennen goal to ice it with 4:17 left in the game.
For the girls, it’s Rock Springs Friday at 2pm. It’s the Lady Broncs biggest rival this season. The teams split a pair—Jackson winning 2-1 in OT on March 27, Rock Spring taking the game on April 22 by a 4-0 score.