Glass half full? The Jackson girls cruised past Evanston and Star Valley this week, posting back-to-back shutouts. Glass half empty? Missed opportunities and lack of finish continue to haunt this team as Jackson’s offensive domination is not necessarily translating into goals.
Jackson 6, Evanston 0
The Lady Braves doinked a few off the iron and self-destructed on a few other chances or the 6-0 final could have been much worse for the Lady Red Devils on Wednesday in Jackson.
Still, the Lady Broncs didn’t appear worried about putting Evanston away.
“I feel like we connected well on the field,” said sophomore winger Piper Lee after the game. “We were trying to finish shots, and maybe they weren’t coming like they usually do. That penetrating pass and the finish maybe weren’t there like we would have liked.”
The Broncs got the opening goal less than 90 seconds in from a low shot inside the near post from Taya McClennen.
Senior midfielder Maylia Lohman, who never met a shot she didn’t like, rocketed one in from 32 yards out with 34:30 left in the 1st half to give Jackson the 2-0 lead.
Phoebe Alva Rosa made it 3-0 from in close just 14 minutes in and it stayed that way for the rest of the opening half as both teams settled in to a more defensive posture.
Coach Kristen Pizarro took advantage of a weaker team, playing some JV kids and resting her seniors for senior night the following day. Players like freshmen Ella Steinberg, Cate White and Karoline Motes-Chavez received some playing time along with junior McKaylee Harmon and sophomore Maddy Kramer, who has looked really good in her time on the pitch this season.
Sophomore striker Albany McCooey grabbed the first goal of the 2nd half for Jackson just 5 minutes into the 2nd 40 with a shot from 17 yards out.
Eva Flanagan made it 5-0 with an absolute air-bender that somehow got over the outstretched reach of Red Devil keeper Emily Sawyer, who is listed at 6’1”.
Jackson keeper Sidney Nash had a fairly quiet afternoon but her vision and constant chatter to fullbacks helps the Lady Broncs defense regroup, keep shape, and mount an offensive.
“Sid is really impactful with her perspective of the whole field. She sees every pass, every run,” Lee says.
Jackson 3, Star Valley 0
The Lady Braves looked a bit energized coming off their first win of the season against Evanston Tuesday but the Jackson girls were not Evanston. The Lady Broncs imposed their will against Star Valley for a majority of the contest on a beautiful afternoon for senior night Thursday.
Jackson managed to get on the board early with a nice stretch pass to left winger Albany McCooey from Taya McClennen. McCooey, who has struggled at times this season with shot accuracy, showed great patience, walking her way in after getting past Aspyn Barclay and slipped in the easy goal past keeper Mikayla Christiansen. Jackson enjoyed the 1-0 lead just 7 1/2 minutes into the game.
Jackson’s 2nd goal was a study in unselfishness as sophomore Michelle Vargas Ramirez found herself dribbling into the box with Star Valley defenders backing off conservatively. Vargas Ramirez looked ready to blast one from close range when she noticed senior Phoebe Alva Rosa over her right shoulder joining the play. Vargas Ramirez fed Alva Rosa a perfect no-look pass (after all, it was senior night) and Alva Rosa does not often miss from that range.
The 2-0 lead Jackson took into the half came only after Christiansen made a diving stop on a one-timer from Alva Rosa at the 39-minute mark.
Lee noted Christiansen was on top of her game but said most of the discussion at the half concerned speed of play and how Star Valley was beating Jackson to too many balls.
Star Valley did an admirable job holding off Jackson and keeping the more dominant Broncs to just the 3-0 final. The Lady Braves were playing with their backup keeper due to injury to starter Mckenna Frazier earlier this week. Sophomore Christiansen was obviously not 100% either as she limped noticeably throughout the game Thursday.
Christiansen made impressive saves time and again to keep Jackson from running up the score. Twice she stoned Alva Rosa who is probably still wondering how she did not come away with the hattrick in Jackson’s final regular season game.
As good as Christiansen was, it was an uncharacteristic bobble that led to Jackson’s 3rd and final goal. No one deserved it more, however, than sophomore Melissa Morillon Jimenez who fired a futile turn-around prayer from 22 yards out that spun out of grasp of Christiansen.
Morillon Jimenez is the team’s shiftiest ball handler, often creating space for herself and her teammates with her dribbling.
“Melissa is so good at holding the ball and allowing the rest of the team to get up the field,” teammate Taya McClennan shared.
Star Valley pressed hard to break the shutout but Broncs defenders Brooklyn Hills and Jordan Davis came up big on several occasions to neutralize threats.
The Lady Broncs (9-3-2) look in good shape to begin regional play as the #4 team in the 4A West behind #1 Rock Springs (9-2-1), #2 Natrona (9-1-2), and #3 Kelly Walsh (6-0-5).