T-wolves hold off T-birds

  • Charlie Laughtland<br>Enterprise writer
  • Thursday, February 28, 2008 10:21am

SHORELINE — It still hasn’t sunk in yet with the Western Conference 4A South Division that these aren’t the Jackson Timberwolves of old.

But if the new and improved Jackson girls soccer team keeps up its red-hot start to the season, the Timberwolves won’t be underestimated by their opposition much longer.

“Everybody kind of comes out a little flat against us,” first-year coach Mike Bartley said, “and all of a sudden we score a couple goals and they come at us hard.”

That’s precisely what happened Tuesday night at Shoreline Stadium, as Jackson jumped to a 2-0 advantage over Shorewood and held off a second-half surge by the Thunderbirds for a 2-1 victory.

The Timberwolves improved to 4-1-0 in league play and remained tied with Edmonds-Woodway for the division lead.

“I was really happy with the way we played the first 30 minutes. We were up 2-0 and everything was clicking,” Bartley said. “Then we lost momentum and they took it to us after that. We kind of withstood the onslaught.”

Much of the action stayed between the 30-yard lines until a booming lead pass bounced over a Shorewood defender and Jackson forward Kaley Mitchell poked the ball past T-birds goalkeeper Tiffany Dillow for a 1-0 Wolfpack lead 13 minutes in.

Mitchell then assisted on Jackson’s second goal in the 22nd minute, sliding a short pass to sophomore midfielder Dani Oster, who took one quick dribble and drilled a line drive into the net.

“We made two mistakes in the back,” Shorewood coach Joe Hampson said of Jackson’s two scores. “I expect to punish teams who make mistakes in the back and I expect to be punished when we make mistakes.”

After sailing two shots over the crossbar midway through the first half, the T-birds came up with a score in the 36th minute when midfielder Akosua Fordjour centered the ball from the sideline and Nicole Kopta finished off the cross for her team-leading fifth goal of the season.

In the second half Bartley made one key defensive adjustment, shifting Oster from attacking center-mid to right-mid to match up with Fordjour.

“They were working everything through (Fordjour), so I moved Dani back there and that pretty much shut all that off,” Bartley said.

Now that the Timberwolves (9-3-0 overall) are averaging a steady 2.4 goals per game, their focus has turned to reinforcing the defense.

“We know we can score goals,” Bartley said. “We’re working on our defense and we’re going to keep working on our defense. Our defense played very well in the second half tonight.”

It was Jackson’s second straight win over the T-birds, who have advanced to the 4A state playoffs the past two seasons. The Timberwolves topped Shorewood 4-1 last month for one of their five preseason victories.

Hampson feels Jackson has finally found the missing ingredient to the winning formula they’ve stuggled to pin down the past few seasons — Bartley.

“Mike has brought new life to this team,” Hampson said. “It’s something Jackson has missed for some time. They’ve always had the talent, but they’ve never had the spark. Now they have a spark.”

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