Jackson soccer fails to tear down sectional wall

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

FARMINGTON -- Talk about heartbreak.

The Jackson girls soccer team was unable to convert on any of its many opportunities while Hazelwood Central converted one of its few, which happened to come in the final two minutes of Monday's Class 2 state sectional game.

Hazelwood Central 1, Jackson 0.

"It was just one of those games," Jackson coach Julie Wunderlich said. "We dominated, but it doesn't turn out like it always should."

It turned out with Jackson players tearful following a fifth straight loss in the sectional round.

The Indians finished the year 20-3.

"It was a good season," said Wunderlich, who was in her first year as head coach.

The way this one turned out was with Hazelwood Central celebrating its first win in four sectional tries, delivered when Lisa Wren sent a crossing pass out of the right corner to Erin Price, who one-timed it past keeper Morgan Riddick for the stunning blow.

"Lisa Wren made a great individual play to beat the girl to the ball," said Hazelwood Central coach Pat Rocco, who added that Price's goal was her fifth game-winner this season for the Hawks (20-5-1).

Adding to Jackson's disappointment were the missed opportunities to put in the first goal after spending much of the first half threatening and getting a breakaway late in the second half that led to a penalty kick.

Throw in three yellow cards on the Hawks, one on the Indians and Hazelwood Central senior Corie Sanders spraining her ankle after getting tied up with Jackson's Bobbi Jo Schlick in the first half.

"It was a physical game," Rocco said.

The first of the yellow cards was handed out when the Hawks' Kelly Runge got into a shoving match with Jackson sophomore Hannah Roach about eight minutes into the second half.

A second yellow was called on Hazelwood Central's Jessica Randazza about 15 minutes later.

And the final one went to Hawks senior Tiffany Fenner, who took down Schlick about 12 yards from the net on a breakaway with 6:07 showing on the clock.

"Bobbi Jo had a nice breakaway and I was pretty confident that was going to go in, but she was taken out," Wunderlich said.

"I was just hoping Tiffany would get the ball or it would deflect off somebody or I would have to come and get it," Hawks keeper Claire Lovercheck said.

Lovercheck had one save like that in the first half to thwart Jackson's best scoring chance. With 12:20 to go before the half, she made a brilliant stop by coming out from the line and diving to take the ball from Katelyn Miracle as the Jackson junior made a move to her left.

Following the second-half foul on the breakaway, Lovercheck had to save her heroics for a penalty kick.

"Just stop it," she said. "That's all I can think of at that moment. It's kind of just reaction."

Lovercheck dived to her right to deflect the penalty kick by Jenni Tenholder, and a followup shot rolled through the crease and went wide right of the goal.

"My goalie is the best in the state," Rocco said. "She's an amazing keeper and she made a great save on a great player. She put it in the corner and Claire guessed right and made a great save. I think that kind of rallied the team."

Hazelwood Central will play Howell North (19-4) in Saturday's quarterfinal.

"Win one game and get to the final four," Rocco said.

The Indians, district champions for seven straight years, probably were thinking along those same lines after being placed on a path to the semifinals without a private school in its bracket for the first time. Jackson had lost to St. Louis area private schools the last two years and fell to 1-7 in the playoffs after the district round with no final four berths.

Jackson had another opportunity in the final five minutes when Roach attacked the goal, but a dribbler ended up in the hands of Lovercheck. The Indians also pressured in desperation after Hazelwood Central's goal, but didn't get any quality shots and had one attack broken up in the right corner of the field.

Wunderlich said she was not concerned about her team's inability to cash in with the wind at its back in the first half. All four corner kicks took place in that half -- two for each team -- and Jackson fired high and wide on two shots, while Hazelwood Central's defenders turned away a half dozen other good chances.

"I had confidence in our girls the whole game," Wunderlich said. "They probably had -- in the second half -- two shots and one went in."

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