Up-tempo offense carries Cats to rout of RangersSeptember 29, 2017
By COLIN LIKAS
JASPER — Aggression paid dividends for Jasper girls soccer Thursday in its regular-season finale against Forest Park. It also led to ample frustration for the hosts.
Regan Mundy’s hat trick paced the Wildcats to a 7-1 victory over the Class 1A No. 7 Rangers, the third straight for Jasper in the non-conference rivalry. When the Cats weren’t hitting the back of the net, however, they were being whistled offside.
And whistled a lot.
“I was getting frustrated,” said Jasper’s Hannah Love, who tallied a goal in the win. “Because you’d make a run, stop, back it up, make a run.”
Coach Michael Donato said he didn’t keep track of how many times officials stopped play, but he did take note of how it was affecting the Wildcats (11-5-1).
“There was no flow developing in the game,” Donato said. “It kept breaking things up. Some of the aggressiveness we were getting called on (for fouls), but I think the majority of it was from the offsides.”
Still, Jasper persevered through consistent delays and continually broke through a high defensive line set by Forest Park (8-6-1). Donato said his team didn’t come out with a game plan based on aggression, but instead adapted to what the Rangers deployed.
“(The Wildcats) were looking to make that run early, and the ball was going to be there,” Donato said, “and they were going to be aggressive on the ball.”
Ranger coach Brad Weyer, whose defense has been hindered by season-ending knee injuries to Rachel Thomas and Tori King, said that higher line comes from necessity caused by a short bench. But he looked to himself as a reason for Forest Park’s game plan falling flat in the loss.
“We kind of let up a little bit and took things a little too easy,” Weyer said. “I’m going to take most of the blame for this one. We flat out didn’t come to play tonight.”
Jasper’s reaction to the Ranger defense was keyed, in part, by Mundy’s passing prowess and Love’s speed.
Donato said Mundy is where she is in the team’s hierarchy “because of her creativity,” and the sophomore agreed.
“I feel like it’s an important part (of my game) because then you can assist other players and they can also get goals from that,” Mundy said.
Love said her fleet feet pair perfectly with the ball movement Mundy brings to each contest.
“She’s great at getting me balls, getting everybody balls,” the senior said of Mundy, who added an assist to her three goals. “She just knows where to put it. So my speed and her balls, we just work really well together.”
Weyer said he thought the match could have played out different had Thomas — whom he described as the quickest Ranger when healthy — been able to suit up.
“It would have made for a more even matchup and probably would’ve changed how they played, knowing she’s back there,” Weyer said. “Give them credit: They exploited us, they did what they had to do and they were the better team.”
Mundy and Love were complemented by goals from Olivia Ruckriegel, Addie Bueltel and Gabby Budd. But despite the blowout success, Jasper quickly set its sights to avenging a 4-1 road loss to Class 2A No. 5 Gibson Southern last Saturday. The Wildcats and Titans will square off in a 2A sectional semifinal next Thursday in Jasper.
“They’re by far the strongest team we could be playing against,” Donato said. “But drawing them first, I think it’s good because we know what to expect.”
And the Cats will be bringing confidence to this showdown despite coming out on the wrong end last weekend.
“I think we’ve totally got it,” Love said. “We’ve got the confidence now, we know how to beat them now after playing them.”
As for the Rangers, who received a goal from freshman Katie Russell on a second-half corner kick by sophomore Kenlee Gehlhausen, their coach believes they may have been caught looking ahead to their own postseason opener next week.
Forest Park also hosts a sectional and has drawn Class 1A No. 3 Vincennes Rivet in a first-round bout. Weyer said his girls, who still have to host Pocket Athletic Conference opponent Pike Central on Saturday to close the regular season, are already itching to take on the Patriots.
“We’re ready to play,” Weyer said. “We’re going to get back to training ... and obviously work on a few things that need to be worked on before we start tournament play. I’m excited for the girls to get back on the field and just forget about tonight.”
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