Jackson girls soccer
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Brock Netter

Brock is SOSA's primary writer and has worked for the Coshocton Tribune, the Kankakee Daily Journal (Ill.), the Vinton-Jackson Courier and the Jackson Telegram. He's a six-time award-winning journalist, a lifelong WWE fan, a suffering Bengals fan and calls the sidelines his home.

Jackson seals first victory over Chillicothe since 2014, stays atop FAC

The Ironladies widen their lead in the FAC title race.

Brock Netter, Staff Writer

Southern Ohio Sports Authority is presented by OhioHealth.

JACKSON — There’s still a long way to go this season, but as of right now, there’s a new team to beat in the Frontier Athletic Conference. 

After coming within an earshot last year, Jackson brought the fight to Chillicothe on Tuesday and, behind a pair of goals from Braelynn Brennan, managed to outdual the Cavaliers by a 3-2 final.

“What a team win. This was the first time I felt like we played a full 80 minutes and showed what type of team we truly are,” Jackson coach Karena Fulks said. “We played our game to our level and the girls were absolutely fantastic. They knew the challenge ahead of them and that it was going to be a tough game, but they completely crushed it. I’m so proud of these girls.”

The victory gave the Ironladies a 1 1/2 game lead in the FAC title race, as well as their first victory over the Cavs since 2014. 

Jackson’s Sydney Carpenter helped her Ironladies top Chillicothe for the first time since 2014 on Tuesday in FAC play.
CREDIT: Seth Fain/Fain Photography

“This is such a great feeling … definitely a top five sports moment. We didn’t anticipate shutting them out or anything, we knew we’d take our lumps on that side of the field,” Jackson goalkeeper Mattie Walburn said. “We really pushed the idea in practice that if we played the way we could for 80 solid minutes, we could come out with a win. To finally do so after a lot of battles over the last three years is awesome.”

Jackson knew it would have its hands full dealing with Chillicothe’s trio of forwards in Ali Mathis, Kiera Archer and Savannah Knapp.

That combination wasted no time making an early impression. 

Early on, Chillicothe had no issues getting shots on target. Routinely finding themselves within 10-15 yards of the net, the Cavaliers fired any time a space was open. But Walburn was there at every turn to make the save. 

She racked up seven saves in the opening 15 minutes before ultimately finishing with 17 on the night.

Walburn was laying it all on the line, and that effort eventually put Jackson’s offense into motion. 

The confidence grew, the chances to score started to pop up and after the ball bounced around a couple times, it ended at the foot of Brennan. She found an opening for the first goal of the game, putting Jackson ahead 1-0 with 25:35 left in the first half.

“We were taught to just keep pressuring no matter what, and if you continue doing so, there’s always a chance to score,” Brennan said. “I kept that in mind, ran through their defense and managed to score.”

Minutes later, however, the Cavaliers had an answer. Off a direct free kick, Archer sent a laser into the bottom right corner of the net, tying the game at 1-1. 

But just four minutes later, Chillicothe’s defense made a slight mistake and Jackson’s Sydney Carpenter made it pay. She caught a defender not looking and stole the ball with nothing but open field in front of her before swiftly finding the back of the net, putting Jackson back ahead, 2-1. 

Chillicothe answered with 9:14 to go in the first half when Mathis sent a rocket into the back corner of the goal, producing a 2-2 score at the break.

“I told the girls to just keep battling. Throughout the season, we have shown ourselves to be a second half team,” Fulks said. “There weren’t any complaints at halftime, just excitement and belief that we could pull it off. It was more about building their confidence to press on and finish the job.”

Both teams had their chances in the second half, placing shots on frame as the minutes continued to tick away. But after both battled for over 25 minutes, Jackson broke through. 

With the ball at Carpenter’s feet, she dribbled and sent a picture perfect pass between two Cavalier defenders right to Brennan, who did the rest.

That goal provided enough momentum to send the Ironladies home with a victory.

“Me and Braelynn have played club ball together forever, so our chemistry has been built through the years and even more so being up top now,” Carpenter said. “We’ve had tons of practices together and coach is always telling us to work together. I think it’s all starting to click at this level.”

Jackson now returns to action on Thursday at McClain while Chillicothe rebounds at Miami Trace that same evening. 

“Beating Chillicothe is huge and something we haven’t done in a very long time. They’re a program known for having a wealth of soccer talent, and they have three of the best players in [Mathis, Archer and Knapp] that I’ve seen play,” Fulks said. “This was a huge step forward for us, a big win for our seniors and something pretty cool to be a part of. But we have to refocus because there’s still a lot of games ahead of us.”


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