SILER CITY — For the second time in nine days, the Jordan-Matthews women’s soccer team fell to non-conference opponent Southwestern Randolph on Wednesday, losing 1-0 in a game that lacked …
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SILER CITY — For the second time in nine days, the Jordan-Matthews women’s soccer team fell to non-conference opponent Southwestern Randolph on Wednesday, losing 1-0 in a game that lacked many scoring opportunities for both sides.
The loss was a mild setback for the Jets, who had previously won back-to-back games, beating conference foes Randleman and Trinity 10-1 and 2-0, respectively.
But against Southwestern Randolph, J-M saw its recent goal-scoring form run out against an opponent content with a pragmatic, no-nonsense-at-the-back approach to defending. And as they did last week in a 3-1 win over J-M, the visiting Cougars relied on forward Maggie Lowe’s penchant for drawing fouls in the box to score the game’s only goal in the 26th minute on a penalty kick.
“It was this sort of defensive, back-and-forth, back-and-forth,” J-M Head Coach Chip Millard said of the game’s choppy flow. “We played two conference games our last two games, and we had so many more chances. This time, it was so frustrating just to trade back and forth with Southwestern Randolph.”
With the loss, J-M’s record stands at 5-4 (5-1 in the PAC 7) with three games remaining in the regular season.
Because Wednesday’s match was a non-conference affair, the defeat does not impact J-M’s postseason prospects. However, the Jets’ only shot at earning an automatic bid to the NCHSAA 2A playoffs is to win on the road on Monday at conference-leading Wheatmore (8-0, 6-0 PAC 7), whom the Jets lost to, 11-2, on March 30. Otherwise, J-M will need to hold on to second place in the conference and hope to receive a wild-card bid.
Needless to say, the rematch with the Warriors has been a high priority for the Jets for a while now.
“We’ve been working in practice every day for the past month,” Millard said. “We have to win that game if we want to be assured a place in the state playoffs because there are fewer teams (in the playoffs) this year.”
Southwestern Randolph’s game-deciding goal came about when Lowe was brought to the ground in the 18-yard box by defender Michelle Parroquin Vallejo in the 26th minute. Moments later, Lowe slotted her spot kick past Janeyra Guerrero, who played goalkeeper in the first half.
For J-M senior winger and captain Litzy Martinez, Wednesday’s loss provided clear illustrations of what needs to improve, but also proof that the Jets can get better as a game goes on.
For one, her team’s communication needs work, she said.
“Wherever we are, we need to communicate,” Martinez said. “If we have the ball and someone’s open, they have to tell me they’re open so I can look up and pass the ball. We need to communicate if I have someone on me — ‘man on!’ — we have to pass the ball or send it. It’s just communication, most of it.”
Still, the second half saw J-M gain more control of the ball in the midfield. Moving from goalkeeper to forward after halftime, Guerrero was effective in her team’s buildup play, often winning possession of the ball with her back to goal before spraying passes out wide to Martinez or sophomores Maricarmen Landa and Maggie Thornton.
“I saw how we were communicating and passing more and running,” Martinez said. “We were trying to do some little plays here and there, but it just didn’t work out, sadly.”
In the end, there was no equalizing goal for J-M, which actually had its strongest scoring chances come about in the game’s opening minutes, as Landa recorded a pair of shots-on-goal in the opening seven minutes, while Thornton misconnected on a header from a corner kick in the third minute.
Now, the attention turns to the tough task at Wheatmore.
“That Wheatmore team is tough,” Millard said. “We try to practice to beat them.”