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Archers Take on Heartland in District Soccer Playoff

November 02, 2012

Donna Jolliff and Jessica Smugala  
Donna Jolliff (8) and Jessica Smugala (21) have scored 20 of the Archers' 46 goals this
season heading into Saturday's District D title game against Heartland Community College
in Normal, Ill. The winner advances to the NJCAA Championship Tournament, which
begins Nov. 12.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When the St. Louis Community College women’s soccer team last took on Heartland Community College, at Meramec on Sept. 8, the two teams found themselves in a similar position. The Archers had just returned from a frustrating 0-2-1 start to the season, and Heartland was struggling as well.

After STLCC picked up its first win of the season in a 2-0 victory that day, Heartland was 1-4-1.

Few could have predicted that since that day, the two teams would finish the seasons a combined 29-1. The Archers won 15 of their next 16 games, and Heartland has won 14 consecutive contests.

Archers head coach Juergen Huettner sees little resemblance between the Heartland team he saw early this year and the one he saw win the Region 24 title last week.

“From our standpoint, it (the two teams’ last meeting) has no bearing at all,” Huettner said. “Two quality teams are going to meet here on Saturday.”

Defense Dominates

Heartland is been exceptionally stingy defensively since its last loss, allowing just three goals over the14-game winning streak. That would seem to make two immovable objects in the defensive units of both teams, as the Archers have allowed just eight goals in the second half of the year. However, even that number comes with a caveat, as three of them came in one game, a 4-3 win over Kaskaskia Community College on Sept. 15.

The Archers’ head coach expects scoring to be at a premium on Saturday.

“I think they have a very solid defense,” Huettner said. “They’re very disciplined. They all support each other, and when they get opportunities up front, they don’t need a whole lot. They made a lot out of nothing offensively. They’re opportunistic offensively, and they just have a strong team.”

The Archers’ defense, headlined by sophomore sweeper and NJCAA All-American nominee Katie Foytlin (Belleville East), and augmented by the goaltending tandem of Apolonia Thomas (Cape Central) and Meggin Werner (Mehlville), has been battle-tested of late, having to preserve one-goal leads in each of the Archers’ last three victories.

STLCC will be counting on the production of an offensive unit that is as talented as it is youthful. Freshmen forwards Jessica Smugala (Seckman) and Donna Jolliff (Seckman) provided the winning goals in the Archers’ two 1-0 wins in the Region XVI Tournament two weeks ago, and have combined for 20 of the team’s 46 goals this season.

But that pair will have its work cut out for them at Corn Crib Stadium in Normal, Ill., on Saturday, as Heartland goalie Danielle Koncius has the nation’s second-lowest goals-against average among NJCAA qualifying goaltenders at 0.13, while manning the net for 1,370 minutes, 11th-most in the nation.

Long Layoff a Factor for STLCC

While Heartland was in the midst of its regional tournament last week, the Archers were enjoying their first week of what has been a two-week layoff, easily the longest period of time between games this year for STLCC. Huettner acknowledges the scheduling is not ideal, but is confident the Archers will have no difficulty coming out sharp, given the circumstances.

“The layoff is obviously crazy,” Huettner said. “We obviously have an extra week of a layoff compared to other teams. It’s tough to find a team to scrimmage, so we’ve just practiced hard for two weeks. We’ve been ready to play this game for probably the last four or five games, so it’s a tough situation, but they know what’s at stake there. I think that keeps them focused.”

Archers on the Air

Saturday’s game will begin at noon, and will be broadcast on CollegeCasts. You can follow all the action at stlcc.edu/sportscast.