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Jackson loses 2-0 lead, falls 3-2 to Howell
Coming into Tuesday's girls soccer Class 2 sectional at Jackson, the Indians had allowed just 14 goals in 22 games.
With that in mind, Jackson coach Zack Walton changed his formation to a more defensive set heading into the second half with a 2-0 lead over Francis Howell. Despite moving his best player -- midfielder Molly Hartmann -- into the defensive backfield, the Vikings (22-3-1) were able to score a pair of goals within the first 15 minutes of the second half to tie the game at 2-2, where the scored stayed at the end of regulation.
Less than midway through the first overtime Howell completed its comeback with a goal off a scramble in the box to win 3-2. Howell will play in the quarterfinals on Saturday at the Anheuser-Busch Center.
"We decided to go to a defensive set and play real good defense," Walton said of the halftime adjustment. "We played good defense the first 10 minutes, then just didn't play good defense. I thought we played better straight up on defense.
"For a while we did well that second half. We thought we could get out of the half without them scoring two goals, but it didn't work that way."
Howell seemed to have the better chances for most of the game, but Jackson (20-3) still got the better of the scoring through 40 minutes. After Francis Howell had several good opportunities the first 20 minutes of the game, Hartmann scored in the 25th minute.
Hartmann, who had found herself open several times in the first half, was able to create some space for herself just outside the goal box. Hartmann hit a low turnaround shot into the lower right corner.
Less than 10 minutes later, Chelsea Dale found herself in the right place at the right time and knocked in a deflection for a 2-0 Jackson lead. That was the way the score remained at the half.
"We played well. I thought we did some really good stuff out there," Walton said. "We won some 50-50 balls. I thought they had some good chances to score, and we came up with some big saves."
About 15 minutes into the second half Howell's leading scorer, Nikki Llewellyn, got the Vikings on the board. Llewellyn took a pass from freshman Amy Beger and buried a shot into the open net.
It did not take long for Howell to score again, as Beger found the net two minutes after Llewellyn's goal. Beger took advantage of a poor header from a Jackson defender and beat Jackson goalie Kylie Werner.
"Going into halftime, with the chances we had, I knew something would go into the net," Howell coach Janet Muehling said. "Coming out and getting those two goals in the first 15 minutes was a big turnaround."
With the score tied at 2-2, Hartmann went back to the midfield, and the Indians started to create more offense almost immediately. Hartmann had two strong chances over the final 20 minutes, hitting a weak shot midway through the half, then being robbed on a long shot with about eight minutes remaining.
After regulation came to an end with the teams tied at two, Howell quickly went on the offensive in overtime. Playing with the wind -- all four goals in regulation were scored with the wind -- Howell put itself in position to win with a dangerous free kick just outside the box four minutes into overtime.
Werner made the initial save off a Howell header, but Emily Hoehn was able to pick up the loose ball and put it away for the game-winner.
"We're a fighting, battling team," Muehling said. "I have nine seniors and that's the tremendous thing about them."
Jackson, which fell in the sectional round for the third time in four years, will lose just two seniors in Amber Tenholder and Hartmann. Hartmann will leave the Indians No. 3 on the state's career goal list with more than 130 goals in her four-year career. Next season Hartmann will play for St. Louis University.
"Our girls had a really good season, and to come out and play this team to overtime, our girls played well," Walton said. "They're a top 10 team, and we played with them and had a chance to beat them."