Jackson, the surprise boys soccer team of the Western Conference South Division, whipped Shorewood 3-0 March 31 to reclaim first place.
After the Timberwolves won five consecutive games to start the season, Kamiak beat them 4-0 March 28, casting doubt on how good the young team was.
But Jackson (6-1) bounced back impressively to shut out previously unbeaten Shorewood (6-1) at Everett Memorial Stadium, behind by two goals by sophomore forward Tye Hastings.
The Timberwolves played a solid offensive and defensive game against Shorewood.
“It was definitely a team effort,” Hastings said. “We just kept our heads. We kept working hard and sprinting after the ball.”
Jackson caught a break in the 11th minute of the game that gave them a 1-0 lead.
Shorewood midfielder Ciaran Regan made a back pass to goalkeeper Dorian Lair from about 40 yards out that skirted past Lair as he moved to his right. Lair chased after the ball, but it hit the post and trickled over the goal line to Shorewood’s chagrin.
The mishap was not a good omen for the Thunderbirds and Lair who had only given up two goals in the first six games of the season.
Shorewood maintained possession on Jackson’s side of the field for much of the first half, but failed to score.
“Passing well, not shooting well, not defending well,” Shorewood coach Mark Wisdom said.
In the second half, Hastings and the Timberwolves capitalized while Shorewood again, could not.
“Our team defense was superior tonight, we just played so good team defense that any attack they tried to assemble we shut down,” Jackson coach Brett Norton said.
In the 56th minute, Hastings sprinted after the ball, dribbled past a Shorewood defender and found the net to make it 2-0. Six minutes later, he saw an opening, got a good touch free from defensive pressure and struck again.
“He’s such a creative player and that’s why I love him at forward. You get him in the attacking third and he can do just about anything,” Norton said. “He’s just so creative and so skilled a player you give him space he’s going to punish you.”
Said Wisdom: “Our defense was not doing their job well tonight.”
Hastings was one of six freshmen to play varsity last year. Jackson only graduated one senior off last year’s team.
Hastings is tied for the team lead in goals with four with senior forward Kevin Luangrath who missed the game. Luangrath, who hopes to play soccer at the next level, is in California looking at colleges during spring break.
With six victories this season, Jackson has already exceeded last season’s win total of five. The Timberwolves were picked to finish fifth in the league in the preseason coaches’ poll.
“We weren’t expecting to be good at all,” Hastings said. “We bonded over the preseason.”
Goalkeeper Kevin Springer, who earned the shutout, coined the phrase, “We believe, we succeed,” which the players chant before each game and at halftime to get fired up.
If their surprising success continues, the Timberwolves will continue to make believers of their fans and earn respect in the Wesco South.