Big hits, kicks and jumps
Heartbroken a year ago, the Columbia Eagles weren’t about to let history repeat itself at the Class 1A sectional soccer tournament Friday.
Senior back Jenna Jackson set up a pair of scores, both of which glanced off Althoff defenders as the Eagles defeated the Crusaders 2-0 in the title game of the Althoff Soccer Sectional.
Beaten 1-0 in the sectional title game when Althoff scored in the final five seconds last year, Columbia broke a scoreless game early in the second half when Jackson’s throw in right in front of the Crusaders goal first bounced off an Eagles player and then off an Althoff player into the net.
The Eagles (24-2-1) scored on a similar play in the closing seconds to clinch the win.
“I feel like a huge weight has been lifted,’’ Columbia coach Jamey Bridges said. “At halftime, I told the team that we had just probably played our worst half of the season and it was still 0-0. They were frustrated and I told them that we could change all that with one or two plays.
“We’ve been so dangerous off dead balls all year. It just goes to show how effective we’ve been. Jenna Jackson has been so good with throws and and they were big for us tonight.’’
The win lifts Columbia into the Columbia-Super-Sectional on Tuesday at 6 p.m. against either Carlinville or Decatur St. Teresa, which will play for the title of the Litchfield Sectional on Saturday.
Jackson said the throw-ins are something the Eagles work on all season.
“We put a lot of work in on throw ins. It’s a big part of what we do,’’ Jackson said. “This title is something we’ve worked for and towards since we lost last year. This means so much. I’ve played sports with these girls since we were in the fifth grade. Now, we’ve got more to get for state.’’
Althoff (21-5-1) had the better scoring chances in the first half and Liesl Whitener hit the cross bar with her team losing by a goal in the closing 12 minutes of the game.
But on this night the Crusaders came up empty.
“First of all I want to commend Columbia. They have had a great season and I’m sure they will represent our area very well,’’ Althoff coach Juergen Huettner said. “We knew how dangerous they were on dead ball and on throw ins. They connected on two of them tonight and it was the difference in the game.’’