Broncs keep rolling, 10 straight and off to state as #1 in the West

Girls and boys soccer begin


With Jackson down two key players, and their best two marked closely by Kelly Walsh, it was a ‘Danny Day’ 1st half for middie Daniel Huerta as the senior converted on virtually identical corner kicks to get the Broncs off to a 2-0 start against the Trojans in Saturday’s 4A Regional title game.

“It was nice to see him put a few in the net. Remember last year he was all-state at striker,” coach Matt Hoelscher reminded.

As a junior, Huerta was a goal-a-game weapon up front with 17 goals and 6 assists on the season—second on the team in scoring to Teddy Opler. This year, Hoelscher shifted his to the back end where he has provided stability and the savvy to sneak into the play when he sees it.

On the two corner kicks Jackson turned into scores it was Huerta who found quiet space a little away from the scrum to knock one in out of the air off his foot (19th minute), and off a header for his 2nd at the 28th minute mark.

“That’s off a set piece,” coach Hoelscher shared. “Danny has a role there.”

With the Trojans making an obvious effort to make sure it wasn’t going to be Teddy Opler or Charlie Hoelscher who hurt them, coach Matt Hoelcher felt confident he had plenty more weapons on the pitch even without Rutley Heinemann (toe) and Sahir Romero (ankle).

It was Huerta who stepped up. Braden Hills also got a chance to show off his speed at center back in the absence of Romero.

The Broncs backline was key in this victory. The Trojans applied a conservative, low pressure forecheck that is only effective if defenders panic and bobble. At the first sign of a crack, Kelly Walsh is ready to pounce.

But the opportunities never came. Danny Huerta, Kai McClennen—they were smooth as silk, often switching fields and tiring forechecking forwards with their crisp passing. The ball moves faster than the player.

“It’s always going to be a ‘numbers up’ situation, even if they send two. We have [goalkeeper] Javi [Huta] back there as well,” Hoelscher said. “We just run those guys into the ground.”

The Broncs big guns can only be held down for so long. Early in the 2nd, an Opler-to-Hoelscher-to-Opler sequence opened enough room for Opler to launch one from a bad angle. No problem. Top shelf over the outstretched arm of Trojan keeper Caden Allaire, who is 6’3”. That made it 3-0 Jackson with 33:30 left in regulation.

Kelly Walsh’s only chance to get back in it came off a dangerous corner kick chance punched out by Huta right to a waiting Rowan Harris. With Huta down and out, Harris’ shot was stopped by either Braden Hills or Chris Tzompa. It was hard to tell on the replay and coach Hoelscher thought it might have been Hills.

The thing is, the Broncs are such a team-first unit, probably no one will take personal credit for the miraculous save to bail out Huta.

Jackson got an insurance goal late from Miguel Perez who bedazzled his way around a trio of Trojan defenders before dishing a nifty centering ball to Chris Tzompa who couldn’t help but chip it in past Allair as the pass landed right on his foot.

Next up

With the win, Jackson secured its 10th straight victory to improve to 15-1. Kelly Walsh is the only team to best the Broncs. That was back on April 9. The Broncs will also nab the top seed in the 4A West. That will match them up with Thunder Basin (6-9-2) to in the opening round of the state tournament beginning Thursday, May 19.

Jackson secures #3 seed in the West with win over Kelly Walsh

It was a defensive standoff between two cautious teams content to play a close marking game with a bulk of play at midfield for the entire first half. Then Jackson came out in the 2nd and did in a span of 3 minutes what they were unable to do in the first 40.

The three quick strikes gave Jackson a lead they would never relinquish enroute to a 3-1 win over Kelly Walsh in a game with important seeding implications for state.

Jackson 3, Kelly Walsh 1

These two teams played to identical 2-2 ties previous during the regular season, so it was no surprise to see a 0-0 standoff after the 1st half—the first 40 minutes marked by a ton of play between the 40s with very few scoring chances.

Hannah Holmberg’s speed created a couple of opportunities for the Lady Trojans. Brooklyn Hills had her hands full playing deep centerfield to make sure nothing got behind her. With 1:40 left in the 1st half, Hills almost gave up too early on one roller Holmberg had her eye on but Jackson keeper Sidney Nash scooped up the loose ball just in time.

Natalie Joralemon denied Trojan striker Aspen Scherck on a crossing attempt that would have been an easy tap in. Joralemon tripped Scherck up and no call was made. Phew!

The 2nd half was much better for Jackson as the girls found their legs and space that was at such a premium in the 1st 40 was suddenly more abundant. When the Broncs struck, they did so in a flash—3 goals in 3 minutes.

With the Trojans obsessed with stopping Phoebe Alva Rosa and Taya McClennen, it was their pitch-and-catch out at the 30 yards line that had several Kelly Walsh defenders mesmerized. That was when McClennen snuck in a pretty short pass to send Melissa Morillon Jimenez in on a 3-on-2 break with Alva Rosa and Albany McCooey to her left.

Morillon Jimenez wouldn’t need either of her mates. She fired a perfectly placed strike, top shelf, for the 1-0 Jackson lead with 31:32 on the clock.

Less than a minute later, Alva Rosa centered up a beauty off a throw-in to Albany McCooey who fired true from close range. 2-0 Jackson with 29:47 to play in regulation.

Less than a minute after that, Alva Rosa lobbed a long across the field to forward Piper Lee who used her speed to slip past freshman defender Kamryn Walker and slam one home from 15 yards out with 28:17 showing on the clock.

Bam-bam-bam…just like that, the Broncs were up 3-0 against a team that is stingy with goals against.

But Kelly Walsh would not go without a fight. A corner kick that Hills mistimed for a header went right off the back of Morillon Jimenez and into the net for an own goal.

That was as close as Kelly Walsh would get as Jackson closed out the Trojans for a win that might have been their biggest of the season. Here’s why…

Next up

The Lady Broncs’ win locks them in as the #3 seed in the west. How big is that? Jackson gets to avoid the beast in the east, Thunder Basin. The Bolts are 15-0 on the season. They’ve surrendered a total of 2 goals all season. It will be on Kelly Walsh, as the #4 seed in the West to face Thunder Basin in the opening round of state play.

Jackson will begin the state tournament against a much more manageable Sheridan (10-6-1) on Thursday, May 19 at 2pm.

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