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Apr. 4—University of Jamestown women's soccer coach Nick Becker sought to instill a new team attitude ahead of this spring's Great Plains Athletic Conference tournament by switching formations.
Then last week happened.
"They all bought in on it, and they looked more dangerous and more confident ... and then we had four players hurt in four days," Becker explained. "It was kinda like, 'All right, what's this gonna look like?'"
Domination was the Jimmies' response.
Jamestown rolled 2-1 over Hastings College in Saturday's GPAC postseason tournament quarterfinal at Lloyd Wilson Field in Hastings, Nebraska. The fifth-seeded Jimmies outshot the fourth-seeded Broncos 18-6, were out-awarded corner kicks 11-1, and only asked sophomore goalkeeper Alex Nowka to make two saves.
The Jimmies (12-7) will be southbound Tuesday to play 18th-ranked Briar Cliff University (12-1-2) in the tournament semifinals in Sioux City, Iowa.
"They responded really well and stepped up and helped each other," Becker said. "We looked a little sharper in this new formation and I think that's what helped them be on the same page as well."
Jamestown fell behind 1-0 after 20 minutes in its new-look 4-4-2 diamond, leveling the score in the 38th by way of what would turn out to be a massive advantage on corner kicks, before holding the Broncos scoreless for nearly 35 minutes in the second half after junior back Penelope Hoppe headed home the game-winner in the 56th.
"Yeah, I think we were all over on them," said Becker, as the Jimmies put eight of its 18 shots on target. "Eleven corner kicks, too, so it's not like we were just shooting it from distance the whole time. It was getting shots blocked and getting close enough to the goal as well."
Huntington Beach, California, native Autumn Opperud cleaned up a ball fired into the box by way of a Kamryn Fiscus corner kick to score her second goal of the season, tying the game in the first half. Fiscus, a sophomore captain midfielder from Washington state, produced six of UJ's 18 shots, while junior forward Brianna Perry was credited with assisting Opperud's tally.
"We kept it live and somebody was in the right spot and trusted to just turn and kick it," Becker said.
Jamestown's early organized attack in the second half produced Hoppe's third goal of the season. Hoppe's header was assisted by Claire Struble.
Hoppe and Struble are also Jimmies courtesy of Becker's California recruiting pipeline.
"I think the players kinda knew and felt like we could get a goal. We finally made the right run and there was the ball and a great header from Hoppe. Claire played it over ... it was a really good goal."
Jamestown's defense held firm to the end. Hastings produced just one shot on goal in the second half.
The Jimmies are 5-4-1 against Briar Cliff dating back to 2005 and fell 3-1 to the Chargers in Sioux City on Oct. 31, 2020. Midland (7-5-3) knocked off second-seeded Morningside 1-0 on Saturday, which has cracked open the door to UJ hosting a potential championship match next Friday.
But, obviously, first things first. Briar Cliff toppled Dordt 4-1 on Saturday.
"It'll be a tough challenge there but getting the first one out of the way always helps," Becker said. "It gives you a little more confidence and I think we're feeling pretty good going into the game."
(Tournament schedule below)
University of Jamestown 2, Hastings College 1
UJ 1 1 — 2
HC 1 0 — 1
1. HC, Dekota Schubert (unassisted), 21st minute; 2. UJ, Autumn Opperud (Briana Perry), 38th.
3. UJ, Penelope Hoppe (Claire Struble), 56th.
Yellow cards: HC, No. 9 18th, No. 1 18th. UJ, No. 3 90th.
Goalkeeper saves: UJ, Alex Nowka 2. HC, Sarah Carpenter 6.
Records: Jamestown 12-7. Hastings 12-6.
Great Plains Athletic Conference
Women's Soccer Postseason Tournament
(Tournament seeding/records in parentheses)
(1) Briar Cliff 4, (8) Dordt 1
(5) Jamestown 2, (4) Hastings 1.
(7) Midland 1, (2) Morningside 0
(6) Dakota Wesleyan (9-7) at (3) Concordia (9-6-1), 7 p.m.
Jamestown (12-7) at Briar Cliff (12-1-2), 1 p.m.
Midland (7-5-3) at #6/#3 winner, TBA.
GPAC Postseason Championship
Semifinal winners at highest seed remaining, time TBA.