Broncs steamroll their way to regionals with 2 more shutouts

Girls and boys soccer begin

The Jackson Broncs (13-1) have just been destroying teams as they tune up for regional play. Since losing their only game of the season on April 9 to Kelly Walsh, the Broncs have surrendered just 2 goals total in the following 8 contests—6 of those shutouts.

The latest two victims were sent packing this week at William T. McIntosh Stadium as Evanston and Star Valley found no chink in the armor against a team searching for its 3rd straight state title.

Jackson 8, Evanston 0

The first 3 minutes Wednesday against Evanston are all you need to know about the Jackson Broncs boys soccer team. They didn’t score (they often do by the time the game is just minutes old) but all what they do was on display.

Dazzling dribbling by Rutley Heinemann, who was Jackson’s best forward all afternoon. Tic-tac-toe precision passing in the box by Teddy, Hunter, Michael…everybody, really. Suffocating pressure supported by an active and engaged midfield. And speed on defense (Braden Hills) if anyone even thinks they are going to make a run in on keeper Javy Huta.

It is the kind of 3-minute opening that has demoralized most teams in the 4A this season.

The Red Devils tried to be physical with the Broncs who have a reputation across the state for flopping. Jackson did not appear phased.

Evanston goalkeeper Dom Mendez turned away a few early stingers to keep the Broncs off the board until a crosser from Charlie Hoelscher found the head of Heinemann on the back door for the 1-0 lead 6 1/2 minutes in.

Four minutes later it was Teddy Opler all by himself with an easy bullet from just inside the arc. And what do you do with Opler? How can you defend this kid? Opler is so dangerous with the ball, most defenders have to give him space for fear of getting beat by his speed and shiftiness, but Opler also has that shot. Give him too much time and space, and he’s going to make you pay.

But, with just the 2-goal lead, Jackson became guilty of letting a lesser opponent hang around; always risky business.

The Red Devils manufactured their best scoring chance with 10 minutes left in the 1st half after a few fortunate bounces got defender Charlie Barden turned around sending Kurtis Richens and in on a 2v0 breakaway. Jackson goalie Javy Huta gambled and came out aggressively on Perez to smother most of the shot, but the senior keeper still needed defender Jensen Smock to help him out and stop a slow roller that had eyes for the far side of the net.

The scare put into Jackson got at least Charlie Hoelscher going. The senior midfielder took the ball into the box with a minute to play in the 1st half, had Opler to his left but opted for a stop-and-start stutter step and then the shot which looked like a ping-ponged off at least one Red Devil defender before slipping past Mendez on the misdirection.

But a 3-0 lead against a team with a record of 2-7-2 didn’t feel right. Coach Matt Hoelscher stressed patience in what was a crowded box for the first 40 minutes.

“I’ll give them credit, they were playing a defensive block. Lots of bodies in the box and not a lot of room. It was hard for us to deal with that many people in the box,” Hoelscher admitted. “Their goalie played really well but we helped him out by shooting right at him.”

Hoelscher asked his kids to stay more focused in the 18 and to continue to look for the right shots, not just any shots.

Evanston’s box-stacking defensive shell didn’t do much to help their ability to score. They certainly looked like a team that came to Jackson not looking to win but would settle for at least not getting run out of the stadium by the powerhouse of the 4A.

Jackson 10, Star Valley 0

A Teddy Opler hattrick along with a pair of goals from Jensen Smock, and Sahir Romero helped Jackson bury Star Valley for the second time this season on senior night in Jackson Thursday.

Romero scored Jackson’s first after a scramble in the box off a corner kick just 6 1/2 minutes into the contest.

A penalty kick from Charlie Hoelscher with 19:40 to play in the 1st half made it 2-0 Broncs.

Teddy Opler’s breakaway conversion made it 3-0 Jackson just minutes later. Opler added a PK goal to close out the half.

A Romero-to-Opler-to-Smock combo was as pretty as it gets for the 5th goal of the game for the Broncs by Smock. Smock was there to clean up after a save on his own shot, another on Opler’s, and then the ball was right there for Smock to go top shelf right corner for the goal.

With the 6-0 lead, coach Hoelscher floated in some JV players. But it was Opler from point blank on a bad angle who whistled one by the Braves keeper for a 7-0 bulge.

Dilan Tzompa Perez manufactured his own goal for Jackson with 22 minutes left in regulation, weaving in and out of the Star Valley defense for an easy tapper past Killian Rainey.

Perez-Pluma netted Jackson’s 9th goal and Romero put an exclamation point on it with the Broncs 10th tally.

Next up

It’s on to regional play for Jackson where the Broncs are fortunate enough to not have to travel. Jackson will also get a 1st round bye before taking on their first opponent (not yet known) on Friday, May 13.

Jackson carries an experienced team that knows what it takes to excel in the post-season.

“We talked about that at the end of the Star Valley game—what it takes to crank it up another notch as well get into the regionals and state,” Hoelscher said. “This team has been there. They know how to handle the pressure.”

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