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'MASSIVE WIN' Jimmie women upset Briar Cliff

University of Jamestown's Lateasha Hughes (19) jumps for a header with Briar Cliff's Megan Siqueiros Thursday at Jimmie Turf Field. John M. Steiner / The Sun1 / 3
University of Jamestown's Lauren Sayler guards the net Thursday while playing against Briar Cliff. John M. Steiner / The Sun2 / 3
University of Jamestown's Natalie Kromm goes for the ball in front of Briar Cliff's Sonja Rao Thursday during women's soccer action. John M. Steiner / The Sun3 / 3

There are wins, and then there are massive wins.

Thursday's wintry women's soccer victory was the latter for University of Jamestown. A talented Jimmie team, which had fallen out of the NAIA's top 25 voting on Oct. 9, lived up to its previous 25th-place ranking hosting Briar Cliff University at Jimmie Turf Field.

Jamestown shattered a 1-1 draw at the half scoring three unanswered goals in the second 45 minutes. The Jimmies' Lateasha Hughes put the home team ahead 2-1 in the 53rd minute with her fourth goal of the campaign, and a Nicole Morrison brace would follow in a convincing 4-1 Jimmie W.

Briar Cliff, which braved North Dakota's early winter blast for an extra day, was previously unbeaten in Great Plains Athletic Conference play. The Jimmies (7-5-1, 4-2-1 GPAC) and the Chargers (7-5-1, 6-1) were scheduled to play Wednesday but conditions pushed the match to Thursday, thanks in large part to a successful effort made by UJ physical plant employees to clear the field of snow.

"Honestly, the difference today was we played as a team," said Jimmie senior goalkeeper Lauren Sayler. "In different games we've dribbled too much, or we try to just kick the ball, and today we connected some passes really well and played well together.

"It was a massive win for us."

Jamestown was coming off a disappointing 1-0 loss to Morningside in Sioux City, Iowa, on Oct. 6. In search of at least a 10-win season for a third straight year, the Jimmies have suffered four 1-goal losses, including overtime setbacks against 23rd-ranked The Master's University (Calif.) and 16th-ranked Hastings College.

"Today it was good to get back to our old ways," said Jimmie women's soccer coach Nick Becker. "We had a little hiccup with Morningside. Briar Cliff was 6-0 in the conference, they're definitely a good team and so it was good to get a result."

Sayler and the Jimmies were stingy in front of their own goal against the Chargers. Jamestown produced a slim, 12-11, lead in overall shots, but Sayler was only challegened on five of them.

Sayler missed out on a fifth clean sheet in 2018 when BC's Taylor Beaulieu tied the match in the 35th minute. Sophie Bales gave the Jimmies a 1-0 advantage four minutes in, scoring her second goal of the season.

"Teams are going to get shots from 40 yards out, but our goalie is going to save it pretty easily," Becker said. "We'll give up that, but actually getting down and getting a productive shot, I think they maybe had two chances."

Sayler, a former Bismarck High School Demon, has been rock solid for the Jimmies in four seasons in front of the net. The senior has posted 18 shutouts since her freshman campaign in 2015, helping the Jimmies win 42 overall matches and break into the NAIA's top 25 for the first time in school history in 2017.

Sayler explained Thursday's match was more indicative of a Becker-led program. Becker has guided the Jimmies to a school-record 66 wins since 2012.

"It's been a lot of ups and downs this season. We kind of went down a little slope of, 'How do we get out of this?' And, that ended yesterday I think," Sayler said. "Something just changed in practice and we knew that if we wanted to go anywhere this year we had to start winning games, putting balls in the back of the net and keeping them out of our own net.

"Just working together, and that was what happened today."

The Jimmies currently sit sixth in the 13-team GPAC standings with five matches left to the regular season, beginning at Doane (Neb.) this Saturday, Oct. 13. Other than Concordia University, Neb. (9-1-3), the Jimmies' final opponents have a combined record of 6-40-2.

The eight-team GPAC conference tournament quarterfinals begin Oct. 31 with higher seeds hosting.

"We're looking to finish out with five wins," Becker said. "We gotta get a couple teams above us to drop a game. I don't think we can get the No. 1 spot, but we're looking to get as high as we possibly can."

Sayler added: "Just use this energy to keep going forward, because honestly this is the biggest win of our season so far."

Jamestown 4, Briar Cliff 1

BC 1 0 -- 1

UJ 1 3 -- 4

Scoring

First half

1. UJ, Sophie Bales, 4th minute. 2. BC, Taylor Beaulieu, 35th.

Second half

3. UJ, Lateasha Hughes, 53rd; 4. UJ, Nicole Morrison (Claire Struble, Gabriella Diarte), 60th; 5. UJ, Morrison, 65th.

Goalkeeper saves: BC, Sarah Young 4. UJ, Lauren Sayler 4; Sophie Ledger 0.

Shots: UJ, 12. BC, 11. Shots on goal: UJ, 8. BC, 5.

Corner kicks: UJ, 6. BC, 0.

Records: Jamestown 7-5-1, 4-2-1 GPAC. Briar Cliff 7-5-1, 6-1.

Michael Savaloja

Hometown: Churchs Ferry, N.D.; College: North Dakota

A recipient of the NDHSCA Award of Merit, Savaloja has been reporting sports for The Sun since 2008.

Follow on Twitter: @MichaelSavaloja

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