Northwest comes up just short in nail-biting loss to Jackson

Northwest comes up just short in nail-biting loss to Jackson

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IMPERIAL • The Northwest boys soccer team is hoping history repeats itself.

The Lions will have to wait until next year to find out if it does.

Joe Noah gave Northwest an early lead, but the Lions couldn’t make it hold up, eventually falling to Jackson 2-1 in the Class 4 District 1 championship on Thursday at Seckman High.

William Essner scored for Jackson (18-4-2) in regulation and Mason Grindstaff, Tanner Walton and Caleb Dameron were successful in a 3-2 penalty kick session. The Indians will play De Smet (19-3-2) in sectionals on Tuesday. De Smet beat Pattonville 1-0 to claim the District 2 championship.

“That was one of the most fun games I’ve been a part of,” Northwest coach David Willis said. “It reminded me of our 2013 district champion game against Eureka and it went to penalty kicks and we rung a couple off the post in penalty kicks that game too and we came back the next season and won the district championship. That was a talking point tonight.”

Like that 2013 team, these Lions (16-10) are young with just three seniors on the roster.

Among the returners is goalkeeper Tyler Helm. The junior initially didn’t come out for soccer this season, then spent the majority of the year on junior varsity before being promoted late in the season.

Helm made a pair of season-saving stops, punching away drives from Jackson’s Jacob Sauerbrunn late in the second half and Chalon Domian in the first overtime.

Helm also got help from his crossbar on a long distance Indians attempt in the first overtime and once again with five minutes left in the second.

“He’s a stand-up kid,” Willis said. “I was proud to see him progress and see the ending that he had.”

Fellow junior Tyler Wilson replaced Helm for the penalty kicks.

“Tyler Wilson is a great PK goalie for us,” Willis said. “Tyler has great reaction time, gets a good read, but you look at some of those kicks they took and two went off the post. You’re not going to save those.”

Jackson goalkeeper Luke Mirly wasn’t to be outdone, robbing Northwest’s Hayden Hatley on consecutive point blank chances in the first overtime.

“He came up big made some really big saves for us in that game,” Jackson coach Zack Walton said. “Crossbar made a big save too and the crossbar made a big save for them too. It was just a really good game.”

Noah’s 36th goal of the season gave Northwest a 1-0 lead six minutes in. Alex Wigge sent in a centering pass from the right corner right to Noah, who was unmarked in the box.

“We’ll be back,” Noah said. “We’ve just got to have a good offseason and get better.”

Essner tied the game at 1-1 in the 24th minute for Jackson, launching a shot from outside of the box that found the top left corner of the net.

Mirly made a pair of saves on shots from Noah and Wigge. Brandon O’Dell had the Lions’ best chance of the second half, clanging a free kick from 30 yards off the post in the 56th minute.

“We battled all night and everybody stepped up,” Willis said. “It was a fun game to be a part of.”

Essner had a chance to give the Indians the lead in the 64th minute, but Helm made a nice save on his point blank opportunity.

Essner had two even better chances four minutes later, creating back-to-back shots with some nifty footwork to shake a Northwest defender. But Helm stood tall twice to keep it tied.

Jackson lost to De Smet 3-1 on Oct. 23.

“We’ve got to play good defense and you’ve got to capitalize on your opportunities,” Walton said. “Last time we played them we had a couple of opportunities that we hit right at their keeper and didn’t put it in the back of the net.”

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