Pats use lightning speed to breeze past Wildcats

Photos by Marlena Sloss/The Herald
Heritage Hills' Kiersten Schuler takes a corner kick during Tuesday's girls soccer game in Jasper. Heritage Hills defeated Jasper 5-2. See more photos from the game.


JASPER — The Heritage Hills girls soccer team had a simple plan in mind when they came into town to face Jasper on Tuesday night: strike hard and fast before the Wildcats realize what hit them. With that in mind the Patriots unleashed a flurry of early goals that conjured images of an Andy Ruiz combination which carried them to a 5-2 win over the Wildcats.

Patriots (8-1, 2-0) coach andy Fischer knew it would be important for his team to come out aggressive and force the Wildcats to match their level of play for the duration of the game. He swelled with joy as he watched the girls kick it into high gear and never look back.

“They did a fantastic job getting to the ball first, communicating and playing well,” he said. “We talked about coming out early and setting the tone, just being high-energy and doing the little things with the ball. It was a fun game to watch.” 

The first three scores were a lightning fast series of events. During a corner kick sequence sophomore Hadley Lytton spied Ella Schnieders in front of Jasper’s (2-6-3, 1-1) net. Putting her quick thinking to use Lytton directed the ball to Schnieders who headed her shot into the net for the Patriots goal. Then tropical storm Schuler came along, Kiersten Schuler that is.

The senior found herself with every soccer player’s dream, a breakaway opportunity at the goal with one defender to beat. She didn’t even bother to pump the brakes, just lined up her aim and sent it in past senior goalkeeper Elyssa Alvey. Two minutes later Schuler was once again at Jasper’s doorstep and don’t bother to knock as she entered her second shot to put the Patriots up 3-0 less than ten minutes into the contest.

There was a lull for the rest of the first half, but the Patriots wasted no time going right back to work in the second. Heritage Hills mounted a push following another corner kick, and the initial shot was blocked by junior Wildcats goalkeeper Emma Shelton. But her fervor to stop the first shot left her on the ground, and junior Haley Osborne collected the rebound shot for the Pats’ fourth score. 

A few minutes later Schuler once again found herself on a breakaway run towards the Jasper net. Instead of waiting for her to close in, Shelton decided to meet Schuler at the top of the goal area to smother her shot attempt. But Schuler used a shifty move that brought Shelton to the ground, ran around her and promptly filled the empty net with her third score of the game. 

The Wildcats tried to get back in it with two scores from juniors Kara Krueger and Ashley Ortiz in the final 15 minutes, but it was too little too late for the Wildcats to make up the deficit in the wake of the Patriots’ furious pace. 

Schuler finished with three goals to go along with scores from Osborne and Schnieders. 

“We were ready to get after it,” said Schuler. “We knew it was their senior night and they were going to be pumped. So we knew we had to match their intensity, we were just ready to go.”

The Patriots netted their sixth consecutive win with Tuesday night's game and Fischer thinks that

“They’re doing a good job of finding each other’s strengths and starting to communicate more,” he said. “They know where each other’s going to be and have trust in each other. That just shows how great they are to each other (as) teammates.”

Wildcats coach Michael Donato said that fast-scoring teams that manage to put up goals in bunches have given Jasper problems all season, and can’t quite figure out why they wait to try and up their intensity instead of coming out firing at the start of the game. They’ve lost three of their last five, but Donato still believes that if the team can rally together during their last few games, they may be able to salvage some of their season before sectionals.

“They just need to be committed to each other, even when we do get down,” he said. “It’s the only way they’re going to get out of it. One player can’t do it on their own, but one player can initiate getting everybody together (and) excited. We’re kind of waiting for who’s going to be that player.”

Jasper's Kimber Schnarr dribbles during Tuesday's girls soccer game in Jasper. Heritage Hills defeated Jasper 5-2. See more photos from the game.

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