University School of Jackson’s girls’ soccer team (10-3, 3-0) defeated Sacred Heart 9-0 on Tuesday night to clinch a first place finish for the regular season in Division II-A West district.
Saturday the Lady Bruins travel to Tipton-Rosemark for the chance to finish 4-0 in the district.
But what is more intriguing to this story is the continual development of a team that had to replace seven seniors who had a lot of success during their years at USJ winning, two state titles and finishing runner-up one time.
This year’s Lady Bruins are looking to write their own story in the USJ record books, though it started out slow with early season losses to the likes of Briarcrest, Hutchinson and Ravenwood, traditionally strong soccer programs. But they never got down or doubted themselves.
“It is a credit to the girls that they have worked hard and improved as a team,” Bruin coach Paul Conway said. “Several girls have stepped into rolls that are new to them and accepted the challenge.”
Junior Anna Jones is one of those players who took on a new position at center back and developed into the leader of the defense.
“Anna has a great soccer mind and she really understands the game,” Conway said. “Her development has allowed us to move Addison (Dunn) back up front where she belongs.”
Dunn, the team’s leading scorer, helped put USJ in first place last Thursday night when she scored with less than 20 seconds left in the match to give the Lady Bruins a 1-0 win over district rival St. George’s.
When asked what has been the key to this teams development Dunn, a senior, said simply passing.
“When we play well we are connecting passes and playing together as a team,” said Dunn, “Nour Nabhan has done a great job of distributing the ball from her center midfield positon.”
The Lady Bruin attack has benefited also from the return of forward Abbey Fleming, who sat out last season while recovering from knee surgery, and the aggressive play of the two wings Anna Pearson and Holeh Heydari.
Heydari, a sophomore, had three goals and an assist in the win Tuesday over Sacred Heart.
The next several weeks will determine this teams place in the soccer history books at USJ, but their journey to this point has been a great success.