Wildcats outlast Rangers in muddy affairSeptember 27, 2018
By JONATHAN SAXON
BRETZVILLE — It was a muddy game, but not a bloody one, when the Jasper Wildcats and Forest Park Rangers met up for their Thursday evening showdown.
The field was soaking wet and made getting around in the game just a bit more of a chore than normal, but one of the players certainly liked the playing conditions.
“Wet and muddy conditions are my peak,” said senior Leah Schnell, who powered Jasper to a 9-4 victory in their regular season finale behind her four goals. “I love playing in them. It’s fun, getting all muddy is a great time. I like it.”
Jasper coach Michael Donato was less than enthusiastic about how sloppy the field was, but he was happy that the Wildcats (10-7) finished the season on a strong note and got off the field with zero casualties.
“I thought they played well. There’s a lot of athleticism on Forest Park and a lot of the girls know each other, so it’ll always be a fun game. Most importantly with this mud, nobody ended up getting hurt. They adapted to the conditions like they had to.”
There was a bit of slipping and sliding when the action started, as to be expected when athletes are running at full speed and attempt sudden changes in direction with less than stable earth underneath them. But soon enough the teams adjusted to how they needed to run, pass, and shoot in order to move the ball around and create those windows to score.
It wasn’t too soon before Schnell was able to breakaway and net the first goal for Jasper a little under four minutes into the game, and she struck again shortly after that to give the Wildcats a 2-0 lead at the 33:00 point of the first half.
Forest Park (11-4) junior Denai Sicard answered back with a score of her own to cut the lead to one, but Wildcats Sophomore Kara Krueger fired right back to give Jasper a 3-1 lead with about fifteen minutes left in the first half. Forest Park kept working hard to create windows and shooting lanes for themselves, but they just couldn’t finish the plays at the net and went into halftime with a two-goal hole.
When the teams came back from their halftime break it was junior Regan Mundy who got the party started back up for the Wildcats. Krueger also wouldn’t waste anytime getting back into the swing of things with another surgical strike through Forest Park’s defense to put Jasper ahead 5-1. Sicard would not let her team’s fight die down however and she knifed through the field to put in another goal for the Rangers to keep them in the contest.
Sicard would score two more times for the Rangers, but her efforts could not overcome the onslaught of offense coming from the Wildcats, as Jasper outscored Forest Park 6-3 in the second half. The final goal came from Schnell who capped the match with the final goal coming with less than a minute left in the game.
In addition to Schnell’s four goals, the Wildcats also received two goals from Krueger and three from Mundy. Sicard scored all four goals for Forest Park.
“I think we played really well together as a team,” said Schnell. “We had a lot of connecting upfront and that showed in our score. I think we did a great job of staying together as a team.”
Donato likes where the team is trending right now, as they have won three of their last four games heading into next Tuesday’s game against Gibson Southern at Princeton to open up sectional play. He just hopes Mother Nature is a bit more cooperative next time out.
“I think we’re where we want to be right now,” he said. “We had a really good training session last night. Hopefully we get the conditions next week when things dry out a little bit. That’s when we can really play more of our game.”
For Forest Park coach Brad Weyer, he’s not so concerned with the loss snapping the Rangers’ eight-game winning streak, but he has seen some habits that are starting to manifest and concern him.
Despite the wins, Weyer said he has seen times where his girls are going through the motions and hopes that they are not experiencing a situation where they peaked too early during the season, which could lead to a letdown in the postseason.
The Rangers have one more game left against Pike Central on Saturday and Weyer hopes he can see the team play at a high level like they have been for most of the season.
“I’m hoping we can work things out,” he said. “Last three games I’ve seen a side out there and we’re not having fun. And when we’re not having fun we’re not doing the simple things. So we just need to get back to basics. That’s when we can relax.”
“At this point we all want to win for each other,” added Sicard. “We’re a very close team and we want to have that trophy for all of us and we want to pull through together. Right now we just have to find our groove again. We might have lost it a little bit, but we’re going to find it."
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