Jackson girls soccer beats Seckman 1-0 in district championship
Jackson girls soccer coach Justin McMullen admitted recapturing the Class 4 District 1 championship Thursday felt a little sweeter after last year's heartbreaking loss in the district title game.
Lauren Welker scored a goal midway through the second half on an assist from Natalie Miller, and goalkeeper Sam Schnicker made five saves as the second-seeded Indians defeated host Seckman 1-0 in Imperial, Mo. The Jaguars were the top seed and had defeated Jackson earlier this season.
For the second time in three years, the Indians are district champs. Last season, the Indians lost to Northwest (Cedar Hill) on a last-second goal.
So coming into this season, the six seniors made reclaiming the district crown a priority.
"We talk about all the time, each year, we want to put a stamp on the program and coming into this year the seniors definitely wanted to win a district championship," McMullen said.
That group of seniors, which includes Schnicker, also lost to Seckman in the district championship as freshmen in 2014.
Jackson (17-4) moves on to sectionals and will host Eureka (15-6) at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Jackson Junior High School. The Wildcats also posted a 1-0 shutout in their district championship game over Lafayette (Wildwood).
"We're at home so I think that plays into our favor a little bit," McMullen said. "It's going to be a very tough matchup. Eureka's a tough team. They have some really dynamic players."
Thursday, McMullen was pleased by his team's ability to gain and retain possession of the ball. The Jaguars (9-10) defeated the Indians 1-0 on April 19. This time, Jackson was the team on the right side of a one-goal scoreline.
About midway through the second half of a scoreless game, Miller found herself with the ball. She passed it to Welker, who made a move and then slotted the ball into the back of the net.
Schnicker and the defense made that slim lead hold up.
"Very intense game, obviously for a district championship that's what you expect," McMullen said. "I thought our girls were very relentless. I thought we won a lot of balls in the air, and we were sound defensively."
After making a mark by reclaiming the district title, the Indians will look to take the next step and advance to the quarterfinals. The Indians haven't won a sectional game since 2003.
"I'm very proud of my girls, and we're looking forward to having another game," McMullen said. "Hopefully we can keep this up."