Crisp passing leads Wildcats to victory

Photos by Sarah Ann Jump/The Herald
Jasper’s Gabby Budd pursued the ball during Thursday’s soccer game in Jasper that saw the Wildcats defeat conference foe Princeton, 11-0. Budd finished the game with a hat trick, while Regan Mundy had seven assists and two goals of her own in the victory. For more photos from the game, click here.


JASPER — While goals may often be the primary focus of attention in soccer, there’s nothing that can make a coach happier than some smooth passing to set up one of those scoring opportunities — for the Jasper girls soccer team, there was definitely more than one of those opportunities.

The Wildcats defeated Big Eight Conference foe Princeton 11-0 on Thursday evening at the Jasper High School Soccer Complex thanks to goals that came from a bunch of different scorers and a plethora of assists from all over the pitch.

“I felt like our passing was pretty good because we were connecting and we weren’t being selfish,” said junior Regan Mundy who finished with a team-high seven assists and also added a goal. “We were willing to give up a goal for ourselves and instead give it to others. That opens things up for your team and that’s how you continue to grow because you can’t take everything for yourself, it’s a team sport.”

The Wildcats (3-2, 2-0) got the scoring started rather quickly as Gabby Budd scored off of a clean, crisp pass from Leah Schnell to make it 1-0 Cats. Schnell quickly got a goal of her own just 10 minutes later to make it 2-0 for Jasper on an assist from Brooke Nottingham after she scored off of a rebound from an earlier shot attempt.

Jasper would add two more goals in the first half — another rebound goal from Kennedy Day and a goal from Kara Krueger to make it 4-0 Wildcats at halftime. Both scoring plays were assisted by Mundy.

Jasper’s Kara Krueger and Brooke Nottingham celebrated after Krueger scored one of her four goals on the day to help lead the Wildcats to victory. For more photos from the game, click here.

Wildcat head coach Michael Donato was very happy to see the Cats convert on the rebound goals as that was one of the main focuses at practices recently.

“The rebound goals was something that these girls have worked on for a long time, and they spent a lot of time on it in (Wednesday’s) practice,” Donato said. “It’s nice to actually see something like that pay off after you work on it.”

The second half was even more dominating for the Jasper girls soccer team as they scored seven unanswered goals to complete the 11-0 shutout. Budd added two more goals for a hat trick, Krueger scored three more goals to have four on the day, while Mundy and Peyton Blackgrave both had one goal each. Mundy had assists on five of the seven goals scored in the second half, while Nottingham assisted on the second to last goal scored on the day for the Cats.

Jasper was able to have five different players score goals and many other players take more shots than usual. In a big victory like this, Schnell believes that it gave some of her teammates more confidence to shoot their shot.

“It definitely helps people who aren’t too confident in taking a shot,” Schnell said. “They realize they can take shots from different places on the field, it doesn’t have to be right on top of the goalie. I think it’s a good thing for them to know that they’re capable of that.”

The passing for Jasper throughout both halves of Thursday’s match was something that made everyone on the team proud. It was something that Donato wanted the Wildcats to excel at coming into the battle with the Tigers.

“We talked about keeping the game simple and to always focus on keeping the ball moving,” Donato said.
“Their pressure against us wasn’t real high so the gaps were there, it wasn’t as difficult for us to do those short passing situations.”

One of the biggest drills the Cats work on during practice sessions is how to best prepare their passing skills to be ready during game situations.

While obviously there are a lot of differences between the two types of play, Schnell still believes that it’s an important aspect to work on whenever possible.

Keilly Romero of Jasper, 7, left, Finley Cook of Jasper, 8, and Layla Pryor of Jasper, 8, talked about their favorite animals under the bleachers during Thursday's girls soccer game in Jasper. Finley and Layla, who have been friends since they can remember, just met Keilly at the game and asked her a series of questions to learn her age, school and favorite things. "We like it under here," Finley said. "Because there's no boys," Layla added. "They always chase us at recess." For more photos from the game, click here.

“We set up all kinds of different plays during practice and we use posts as players and draw up plays around them to try and set something up,” Schnell said. “It’s easy to put something together during a practice but it’s nice when they come together during an actual game.”

Mundy added: “Coach has a lot of drills for us, it’s more like interactive stuff so we have a lot of passing drills that lead to shooting drills and then those lead us into something else. It’s just a lot of movement that keeps us on our feet and ready for action because on the field you have to always be ready, that’s what coach is teaching us with those drills.”

After winning two Big Eight conference games this week, the Cats will have another conference foe coming to town on Saturday as Mount Vernon comes to visit.

The Cats are hoping their early stretch of a few tough opponents such as Bloomington South and Evansville Reitz will help them as they now get into the meat of their Big Eight schedule.

“Playing harder teams makes everyone look at themselves and say we need to play harder because there’s teams out there that are better than us,” Schnell said. “We can’t get a big head right away in the season.”

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