Last season, the Jackson boys soccer team ended Northwest’s season with a 1-0 shutout in overtime of the Class 4 District 1 Tournament.
Nothing changed this time around as the Indians handled the Lions once again with a 3-0 win last Wednesday at home. One thing that’s changed is how Jackson has started the season as its gone undefeated through five games versus last year where the Indians started 2-3.
“We’ve started off well and our boys are playing really well right now,” Jackson head coach Zack Walton said. “We just have to continue to build on that and keep going all season.”
In the match last week, the Indians showed off their spread scoring attack as three different players scored goals. Jackson has scored three or more goals in all but one game through its first five matches.
Drawing first blood for the Indians was junior Blake Cain, who scored in the 30th minute after Jackson had three failed shots on goal prior to that.
Jackson nearly scored five minutes prior to Cain’s goal when fellow junior Kayden Crooks hit the crossbar at the 25-minute mark.
Crooks’ attempt was quickly rebounded by junior Aiden McMinn, who had a shot roll left of the goal in the first few minutes. Once he got the ball, McMinn rushed a shot on the goal but it also went just passed the goal for Jackson to come up scoreless.
However, McMinn added Jackson’s insurance goal in the second half at the 47-minute mark, which was one minute after Crooks had another shot on goal. Fellow junior Kamden Bass was also key in the Indians offensive attack.
“[McMinn] is very crafty up there, and he’s quick and really wants to win really bad,” Coach Walton said. “You can tell every time he gets the ball he wants to score a goal. It’s good to have that as a forward mentality.”
Adding Jackson’s third and final goal of the night versus Northwest was freshman Brandon Botkin, who did so in the 70th minute.
“We’ve got a lot of guys that can put the ball in the back of the net,” Coach Walton said. “We’ve got a lot of guys who can beat people one-on-one, so when we play as a team we’ve got a lot of spots on the field where we can break people down.
“We saw that tonight and broke [Northwest] down on the outside and in the middle a little bit. I think our backs did a great job of winning the ball out and communicating back there. Our keeper had to come up with a couple big saves, but that’s how you keep a shutout.”
Defensively, this was the second shutout of the year for Jackson, which is led by players like juniors Carter Strickland, Keller Drum, Jake Johnson and goalkeeper Braden Thompson. Indians like senior DJ Cowart and sophomores Luke Simmons and Dylan Strothmann also play a pivotal role on defense.
“We have a lot of juniors out there — those kids grew a lot last year and you can tell right now it shows that those kids as sophomores knew how to play,” Coach Walton said. “We’ve got some experience out there, and our boys are doing a great job of adapting to the game and bringing intensity.”