ORIGINALLY WRITTEN TOM STOPPEL
Both the Tabor men’s and women’s soccer teams continued their late-season surge with two more victories last week.
Central Christian-Tabor made it two wins in a row by defeating Central Christian, 3-1, Thursday.
Tabor jumped on top in the first half when Scott Friesen scored on a header off a corner-kick assist from Kenton Schroeder at about the 20-minute mark.
Four minutes later, the duo combined on another corner lick and goal to give the Bluejays a 2-0 lead at intermission.
“One goal was a power header right into the top center of the goal,” coach Lincoln Wulf said. “The other was a floater into the corner.
“You always want to strike the ball with your forehead and hit it down to put pressure on the keeper,” he added. “Scott’s just having a great year his senior year.”
Leading 2-0, Wulf said Central Christian came out much harder in the second half, but once again the Bluejay defense saved the day.
“They were controlling the ball in the second half, but our defense didn’t give them an opportunity to turn and strike it,” Wulf said. “Our defense has been solid all year.”
Also playing a key role in the Bluejay surge is the recent play of junior goal keeper Nathan Faul, who recorded four more saves against Central Christian.
“Nathan has just played outstanding in the last half dozen games,” Wulf said.
After Central Christian scored to cut the lead in half, Schroeder was on the receiving end of an assist from sophomore transfer Matt Statler, to score a goal and secure the 3-1 win.
“I think our game against McPherson just gave the guys a load of confidence,” Wulf said. “We’ve got the confidence now that we can put the ball in the back of the goal.
“We’re working hard to control the ball, but we’re still playing the same way we have all year,” he added. “It’s just that now the goals that used to sail high or wide are beginning to go in.”
With the two wins, the Bluejays improved to 2-13-2 for the year.
McPherson-Tabor earned its first win of the season Oct. 21 at McPherson, 3-1.
“We didn’t do anything different than we’ve done in any other game,” coach Lincoln Wulf said. “In this game everything we hit was golden.”
After battling the Bulldogs on an even keel the first 10 minutes, Wulf said his team started to dominate.
At the 20-minute mark, Kenton Schroeder scored a goal on an assist from Scott Friesen to put the Bluejays up 1-0.
Two minutes later, the Bluejays got a free kick and made McPherson pay when Jon Adrian hit the free kick right in front of the McPherson goal and Friesen headed it over the Bulldog keepers head and into the net.
“All of a sudden we’re up two goals, and we hadn’t scored two goals in one game this year,” Wulf said. “We had an impressive first half and just took it right to them.”
Enjoying a halftime lead was an unconventional feeling for Tabor.
“I told the kids we’d win this game from the neck up,” Wulf said. “All we had to do was play smart, because we were hitting on all cylinders.”
The Bluejays kept on firing in the second half. Just 24 seconds in, Tabor’s offense struck again.
Taking the kick to begin the half, Tabor played the ball into the corner and worked it across in front of the McPherson goal.
“Lo and behold, we found ourselves wide open,” Wulf said. “We got a beautiful play.”
Scoring the goal was Schroeder, his second of the game, on an assist from Ryan Kelley.
Also playing a good game for the Bluejays was goal keeper Nathan Faul.
“He did a lot of nice things for us,” Wulf said. “He had four saves for the game.”
But the Bluejay defense was the story of the game.
“Our defense was solid,” Wulf said. “We just eliminated their opportunities.
“Our mid-field defense (Kelley and Adrian) was marking better than they have been in the past few game,” Wulf added. “That really frustrated the McPherson players. They have a more talented team than us, but we outplayed them.”
Ottawa-The Tabor lost to the Braves, 2-1, in overtime in their last game of the season.
“All we had to play for was pride, and the guys did a great job,” coach Lincoln Wulf said. “We improved tremendously from the first of the year until the last five or six games.
“We hope the conclusion of our season, coupled with a good recruiting year, will propel us to a great season next year.”
With the loss, the men finish 2-14-2 for the year.
Central Christian-The Bluejays won an overtime thriller Thursday over Central Christian, 2-1.
“In the first half, we set the tone,” assistant coach Mike Zollinger said. “We had opportunities to score, but didn’t finish them off.”
Michelle Rink scored both Bluejay goals with assists from Kari Shorb and Kandi Holland.
“We recently made some changes in the lineup,” Zollinger said. “All around, we are stronger merely because of the position changes.”
Zollinger cited the moves of Rink to forward, Amber McKillip to marking back, and Porche Davis from forward to outside midfield.
“The last couple games Rink has become an offensive threat,” Zollinger said, adding that McKillip had improved dramatically considering her limited soccer experience.
“I like having her playing defense because she’s transferred her defensive knowledge from basketball to soccer, which is a very big advantage for us,” Zollinger said. “The same goes for Ellen Hathaway, who is the most physical player on our team.
“With women, you can’t ask for much more than that,” he added. “Teaching a person to be physical is hard, but when they already have that skill, it’s a blessing.”
Zollilnger also praised the play of Holland, who’s been fighting a bad ankle this season.
“I still think she has outplayed any other forward I’ve seen this season,” he said.
Zollinger said Steph Stuber and Kathleen Stagg have developed into two of the most dominant midfielders in the league.
“We still need to come out and play the game the way we know how to play,” Zollinger said. “None of the games we lost in conference were because we were outmatched. We lost them because we just didn’t show up to play and let our opponents dictate how we played.”
McPherson-Tabor won another conference game Oct. 21 at McPherson by a score of 3-2.
Trailing 1-0 at halftime, the Bluejays came out strong in the second half to take the victory.
“We began the game flat again and ended the half down one goal,” coach Mike Zollinger said. “However, the second half we made some position changes, moving Michelle Rink up to forward and bringing Amber McKillip back to defense.
“Moving Michelle helped because we gained more possessions up top, and with the team’s energy coming out in the second half, it gave us much more offensive power.”
Rink took advantage of her position switch to lead the Bluejays with two goals, while Steph Stuber was credited with the other goal.
Kathleen Stagg assisted on two goals while Kandi Holland had the other assist.
Kari Shorb continued her quietly great season by turning away six Bulldog shots in goal.
“In the second half, I actually saw the ‘team’ of the Tabor women’s soccer,” Zollinger said. “I haven’t seen that too many times this year. But as you can see, when we come out to play as a team, good things happen.”
With the win, the Bluejays improved their record to 5-11 and are still in the chase for a berth in the KCAC post-season tournament with a 4-4 conference record.
Ottawa-The Tabor women saw their season come to an end Saturday with a 3-0 loss to the Braves. The loss eliminated Tabor for the post-season tournament. Tabor concludes it’s season with a 5-12 record, finishing 4-5 in the KCAC.