Cats capture 3-0 victory over Pike Central

Photo by JImmy Lafakis/The Herald
Jasper senior midfielder Kylee Vaal prepares to kick the ball upfield during the first half of Thursday evening’s soccer game in Princeton. The Wildcats earned a 3-0 shutout victory over the Chargers.


PRINCETON — While a magenta sunset peeked out from behind the lofty trees at Princeton Community High School, the Jasper (6-9-1) girls soccer team took care of business in a Sectional 30 contest against Pike Central. A potent blend of steady offense and stingy defense secured the Wildcats’ 3-0 win over the Chargers.

“It’s always good getting past the first game of sectionals,” Jasper head coach Michael Donato said. “Coming into it, there is always that anxiety and everything. In the second game, they’re relaxed a little bit more.”

In the early stages of the game, Jasper worked the ball into Pike Central’s half of the field. With 24:42 remaining in the first half, Wildcats senior forward Kara Krueger took control of the ball just outside the box.

Krueger applied a deft touch and booted an unassisted goal straight through the net. Playing with an early 1-0 lead, Jasper’s back line halted Pike Central’s progress.

“They always play pretty strong,” Donato said about the defensive unit. “They’re not allowing any of the balls through. With this ground being so hard and some of the weird bounces, the judgment on the back line had to compensate for that. They did really well.”

Throughout the closing segments of the first period, Jasper maintained possession of the ball. When the Chargers sought out slivers of space, the Wildcats immediately closed the gaps.

“We pushed up and pressured the ball,” Jasper senior defender Madyson Bradley said. “We were working from around the back, passing and controlling it.”

After taking a 1-0 lead into the intermission, the Wildcats created some more breathing room in the second half.

As Jasper passed the ball upfield, Krueger flashed her all-around aptitude with an astute assist to Wildcats senior midfielder Kylee Vaal.

Eager to capitalize on the opportunity, Vaal maneuvered into the open space. Her fundamental kick gave the Wildcats a key insurance goal with 19:34 to go in the half.

“That was what we really wanted to see,” Donato said. “They were playing the ball horizontally. A nice seam opened up. We got the nice connecting pass from Kara to Kylee. All Kylee had to do was just pass it into the net. Keeping it simple, but staying patient until things open up.”

Sophomore midfielder Merin Buck broke free and scored Jasper’s final goal with 2:28 left in the game.

One last defensive stand sealed a spot in the sectional championship.

Donato expressed his gratitude for the chance to play for a title amidst this unprecedented campaign.

“I always think about the seniors,” he said. “At this time in the season, you don’t want to see them stop playing.

For some of them, this could be the last time they step on a soccer field. You never want to see it end.”

Jasper will play at 2 p.m. on Saturday. The Wildcats will face Vincennes Lincoln.

“I’m hoping to go all the way,” Vaal said. “Win and go to regionals — that’s what we all hope for.”

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