By STEVEN SPEARS
(WARRENSBURG, Mo., digitalBURG) — Jennies soccer is headed to its third-straight NCAA-II Central Region Championship.
The Jens moved past the University of Central Oklahoma Bronchos Sunday, Nov. 13, securing a 2-1 victory at the South Recreational Complex. The teams met twice before and headed into the game with the series tied 1-1. The Bronchos handed UCM their only loss of the regular season Oct. 7, and the Jens fired back with a shutout victory to win the MIAA championship.
Head coach Lewis Theobald said the Bronchos have a dynamic front line, making the Jens defense a priority going into the game.
“We knew that they would get opportunities and we were just hoping to be really solid defensively and then we thought we could, with our front line, create some opportunities and hopefully be a little more efficient than they were,” Theobald said.
Senior defender Emily Eldridge was injured on a foul in the first half, causing her to leave the game early and put an end to her season. Theobald said losing Eldridge was huge.
“When she went down we really had to reshuffle our lineup because we end up moving players into different positions to try to compensate for that,” he said. “It’s just hard to lose someone of that caliber.”
Losing one of their strongest defenders didn’t hinder the Jens’ play. They outshot the Bronchos 18-12, scoring on a goal from senior forward Hannah Pyle and a penalty kick from redshirt sophomore Jada Scott.
The Jens’ victory over UCO sends them to the Central Region Championship Friday, Nov. 18, in Allendale, Michigan, where they’ll face Fort Hays State. The team beat the Tigers 1-0 earlier this season.
“We’ve seen Hays before. We know what they are. We’ve seen them play and we’ll know what they’re about,” Theobald said. “I think it’s about us this week. We just have to get better. I think if we do what we can do we’ll be alright.”
Pyle said the Jens will prepare for the game by focusing on themselves. She said they don’t want to make any drastic changes since their play is what got them to this point.
“We’re not going to play to another team,” Pyle said. “We’re going to do what we do best, and that was what we did again today (against UCO). We press high for the first 10 minutes, we go at them early and we hope to finish early. If not, we play for 90 minutes. We don’t change our style of play based on another team.”
Scott said she’s just going to keep playing for the girl next to her.
“I think that that’s a big part of what we always bring into our games,” Scott said. “As long as we’re putting in the effort and playing for each other then we’re always probably going to come out strong and know that we’re never going to be disappointed with however we play.”
Video contribution by Lauren Koske – Multimedia Editor