E.A. Sports Today

Lowery turns back Jackets

Jacksonville junior keeper makes 15 saves to surpass two milestones in 4-1 victory

Jacksonville goalkeeper Matti Lowery has given up only 15 goals in 19 matches this season. Below, Oxford keeper Miranda Schoening makes one of her saves in the 'back and forth' battle between keepers. (All photos by Cedric Mason/Mase Photography)

Jacksonville goalkeeper Matti Lowery has given up only 15 goals in 19 matches this season. Below, Oxford keeper Miranda Schoening makes one of her saves in the ‘back and forth’ battle between keepers. (All photos by Cedric Mason/Mase Photography)

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

OXFORD — Matti Lowery reached two goalkeeping milestones and Haleigh Rutledge scored two goals as Jacksonville’s third-ranked girls soccer team topped Oxford 4-1 Tuesday in its final game before the playoffs.

Lowery outdueled Oxford’s outstanding keeper Miranda Schoening with 15 saves — many of the point-blank variety — to surpass 200 saves for the season and 700 for her career.

She now has 211 saves for the season and 708 for her career. The junior has given up 15 goals in 19 games.

“Every once in a while it’ll mean something to me, like if it’s a big milestone like 500 or 100 in a season — sometimes,” she said of the numbers.

Asked if the numbers Tuesday fit that category she said “Definitely … because I didn’t expect to get that many this season.”

The Yellow Jackets gave Lowery numerous chances to make saves, and they weren’t easy ones. She stopped two semi-breaks by Shania Vincent in the final 15 minutes of the first half, the latter becoming her 200th save of the season. Her 700th save came on a point-blank shot by Michelle Schmitt with 13:26 to play.

Schmitt hit the post with 9:30 to play. It didn’t qualify as a save, but Lowery gave it an assist for keeping the Yellow Jackets off the board.

“She plays with heart, she plays relentless, she’s the last line of defense and she’s got as much courage as anybody you’re gonna find to put in the goal,” Jacksonville coach Sam Cain said. “She’ll do anything for her team. She’ll lay it on the line. She’s playing the a separated shoulder but she’ll still lay it out for everybody.

“She’s fearless. Until they put it in the back of the net I don’t count it in.”

A separated shoulder?

“No big deal,” she said. “All my defenders know how to put my shoulder back into place.”

It was important for Lowery to be sharp in this match, because Schoening is one of the best keepers around. Scheoning, a tall junior already committed to North Texas, feels the same way when she’s opposite Lowery.

“It definitely adds input to it,” Schoening said. “You just want to fight harder and show her you can make that save and see if she can make that save. It’s like a back and forth battle.”

Elizabeth Poe and Virginia Poe both scored on Schoening in the first 10 minutes. Rutledge scored both her goals in the second half, the last one with 38.7 seconds to play.

The goal Lowery allowed came with 4:45 to play after she made a stop on Toni Coley’s cross but the rebound came out toward rushing Oxford forward Morgan Adams. It was the first goal Lowery allowed the Yellow Jackets in three meetings this season.

“I’m vertically challenged. I’m 5-3,” she explained. “I look at it more as a learning experience where I kind of look back at it and go you’ll put your top hand up next time instead of going with your right hand. It’s always kind of a mood-dimmer when you get a goal in, but it was a good shot on her — I’ll give her props — but we made the corrections and we got it together as a team.”

So now it’s on to the next milestone. One thousand career saves, perhaps?

“It doesn’t happen that often,” she said, “but I’ll shoot for it, heck yeah.”

The Golden Eagles (15-4) return to action Saturday in their playoff opener at Springville with an eye toward a second-round match against second-round Guntersville Tuesday.

Donoho 1, Sacred Heart 0

Sonny Jenkins scored on a free kick from 25 yards after Maryam Salame was fouled for the game’s only goal to keep the short-handed Falcons’ playoff hopes alive.

The Falcons (8-2) were playing without four starters attending the Keaten Beam visitation, but got some inspired play from juniors Kelsey Johnson and Gracie Love.

Because they are behind in goal differential and tied in points, they must now beat Westbrook Christian Thursday at home to earn a playoff spot. The game, which must be played, was moved from Wednesday for the Beam services, forcing a postponement of the day’s originally scheduled game.

Jacksonville 4, Oxford 1

Jacksonville 2 2 — 4
Oxford 0 1 — 1

GOALS — J: Elizabeth Poe, Virginia Poe, Haliegh Rutledge 2; O: Morgan Adams.

Donoho 1, Sacred Heart 0

Sacred Heart 0 0 — 0
Donoho 0 1 — 1

GOALS — D: Sonny Jenkins.


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