Jackson boys soccer claims first district title since 2011 with win over Seckman
The last time that Jackson boys soccer won a district title, Colten Weber was watching from the stands as his older brother, Nolan, helped the Indians to a trophy in 2011.
In the time since, Jackson's trophy cabinet remained empty, while Colten lost his brother to brain cancer, making it all the more special as the younger Weber helped the top-seeded Indians take the Class 4 District 1 title on Thursday, defeating second-seeded Seckman 4-1 in Jackson, Missouri, to earn a berth in a sectional game.
"It means a lot," said Weber, a senior center back. "The last district title was when my brother was still playing soccer ... and then he passed right after he graduated. So it meant a lot to me.
"The first couple years we got knocked off early in districts, and then last year we lost in the championship, so this year after we had such a great season that we knew going into it that we had a chance as long as we kept playing good soccer. This win meant a lot to us. Now we've just got to focus on the sectional because the next team will be even better."
The Indians move on to a sectional on Tuesday and will play either St. Louis University High or Chaminade, which face each other Saturday in the District 2 title match.
Jackson played Eureka for the District 1 title a year ago, but fell in overtime. This time, the Indians (19-2) made sure it wasn't that close.
The hosts got a goal from Justice Crosnoe late in the first half, then doubled the lead on a deflected shot by Desmond Morris in the 53rd minute before leaving Seckman behind on goals by Josh Scholl and Kaleby Irby in the 69th and 77th minutes, respectively.
Scholl and Liam Gray each had a pair of assists.
"Having that goal right before the half really helped us going into the half, really got our confidence up," Weber said. "We knew going into that second half, 'Hey, they're going to come out on fire, so it's the first five minutes that's going to determine who's going to win this game.' Then we got that second goal for a little bit of insurance and can play with more confidence and take a breath, which helps us play better soccer, and we put a couple more in."
The two sides met in the regular season, with the Indians picking up a 6-2 win, so Jackson knew the Jaguars (14-10) were capable of scoring.
"We expected it to be a close game," Jackson coach Zach Walton said. "We watched them play against Northwest [in the semifinal] and they looked really good against Northwest. When we played them [during the regular season] the ball went our way and we were able to score several times. They had some really good opportunities in that game that they didn't score on. ... We knew coming into tonight that Seckman is a good team and they're well coached, so we knew it was going to be a battle.
"Seckman had some opportunities to score [tonight]. Our defense came up big; Brayden Emmons, our keeper, came up big on a couple saves for us. I thought our backs played well to keep Seckman out of goal. They were putting on pressure a lot."
The only thing that prevented a shutout by Jackson was a moment of sportsmanship late in the game, when the Indians allowed Jaguar senior Michael Drury to come off the bench and score in the 78th minute.
Other than that, Seckman was held to just four shots, with only one on frame.
"We have a size advantage so we were able to win the 50-50 balls in the air, but we had to keep on our toes because they're quick and good with the ball and really good at making runs and cutting in behind us," Weber said. "We had to stay on our toes with that. And they have some really good talent up top. We prepared well and, overall, played a good game."
The Jaguars had a flurry of half-chances inside the first 10 minutes of the game, creating some danger around the penalty area, but unable to actually generate a shot.
Then Jackson began to take control, bossing possession and out-shooting the visitors 10-1 in the first 40 minutes.
The Indians got the all-important first goal in the 38th minute, when a pass out of the back slipped through the midfield and directly to Scholl, dropping deep from his high position to get on the ball. The prolific striker then turned with the ball at his feet and sliced through the Seckman defense, creating enough chaos to deflect the ball to Justice Crosnoe, who followed up the play and knocked the loose ball home for a 1-0 edge just before the halftime break.
"Woo, that was huge," Walton said. "I would have liked to have that at the beginning of the first half, but we'll take it. That was really big. Especially right before half."
Seckman responded after halftime, putting some pressure on Jackson high up the field and disrupting the home side's possession. But the Indian's weathered that storm, settled back in and got a fortunate bounce.
It was the beginning of the end for Seckman.
"I thought in the first half we played pretty strong considering what had happened last time we were in Jackson," Seckman coach Tim Bookstaver said. "We came out and played pretty well, we just did a bad job of trying to contain Scholl in the last three minutes [of the first half]. We let Scholl come at us -- which we were trying not to do all night -- and they broke in. Where the guys had confidence for a while, that kind of took the wind out of our sails.
"We came out [in the second half] and pushed a little bit but some bounces went the wrong way. Jackson is too good of a team -- if you can't get bounces to go your way, they're going to get goals. They've been doing it to teams all year."
With Scholl returning to the field after a brief break to get checked out after taking some hard contact, the senior attacker put his first touch to midfielder Morris, whose shot from the top of the 18-yard box deflected off a defender, caught Jaguar goalkeeper Trenton Haegele leaning the wrong way and rolled in for a 2-0 lead at 52:55.
The Indians made it a 3-0 cushion in the 69th minute when Liam Gray sent the ball from the end line to Scholl in the middle of the box, and the latter finished it for his 31st goal of the season.
Substitute Irby made it 4-0 eight minutes later when Gray pushed into the box and slid the ball left to the sophomore, who blasted a shot off the hands of Haegele and in.
With less than three minutes remaining, Jackson allowed the Jaguars to move in on goal unimpeded to set up Drury.
"It was special," Bookstaver said. We had talked about trying to find a moment in a game and we've played so many close games this year. I give a lot of credit to the two captains we have, Caleb Potter and Josh Small for getting with the Jackson boys and making a special moment there at the end. Top class by the Jackson kids to recognize it. I can't say enough good things about Jackson."
- Photos from the game (10/27/16)