Ranked No. 19 in NJCAA poll, Lady Blue Devils soccer team nips Cavaliers in 3-2 thriller
by Alan Hoskins, KCKCC
It was 24 hours of firsts for women’s soccer at Kansas City Kansas Community College.
On Tuesday, the Lady Blue Devils learned that they were nationally ranked for the first time in the eight-year history of the sport – No. 19 in the latest NJCAA Division II national poll. On Wednesday, they validated the ranking by defeating Johnson County 3-2, the first win ever over their arch-rivals in Overland Park.
“Obviously, it’s good to get a win over our cross-town rival,” fourth year coach Shawn Uhlenhake said. “We beat a good team today, another step that shows we’re competing at a high level. It’s also great they’re getting the recognition they deserve. It’s a team that enjoys competing and being around each other. They’re having fun and when you’re having fun it’s easier to go to practice and they’re getting positive results. But it’s so early in the season and so much left and now everyone will be coming after us.”
The win boosted the Blue Devils’ record to 6-1 with the only loss to No. 6 ranked Butler County 3-2 in overtime. At 3-1 in Jayhawk action, the Blue Devils and Cowley (3-1) trail Butler (3-1-1) by a half-game. KCKCC is right back in action Saturday, home against Allen County at 5 p.m. before embarking on a treacherous road trip to Coffeyville next Wednesday and Butler a week from Saturday.
Trailing JCCC 1-0 early, the Blue Devils surged to a 3-1 lead on an exhaustingly hot day with temperatures in the 90s.
“It was miserably hot and Johnson County came at us very hard the last 20 minutes,” Uhlenhake said. “But we battled through it. It was tough. I feel fortunate to get away with a win.”
The Cavaliers took a 1-0 lead at the 24:52 mark of the opening half on a goal by Kayla Ambrose on an assist by Gail Logan before the Blue Devils surged ahead 2-1 on a pair of deflections in the final seven minutes of the first half. Sophomore Karleigh Enyart got the tying goal off a corner kick at 38:03 and 1½ minutes later, KCKCC had a 2-1 lead on a shot from 15 feet out by freshman Connie Hughes on an assist from sophomore Kayla Deaver.
What proved to be the winning goal came just seven minutes into the second half, an unassisted missile by freshman Melissa Siegel from 30 yards out into the upper right corner of the net.
“An absolutely beautiful free kick,” Uhlenhake said. “She’s come close all year and finally put one away, a great goal.”
JCCC’s Ambrose scored her second goal the game on an assist from Kayla Flores with 26:33 remaining before the Blue Devil defense held firm headed by freshman goaltender Jaidyn Takaishi, who had five saves on the Cavaliers seven shots on goal. Meanwhile, the Blue Devils launched nine shots on goal against two JCCC goaltenders.
The KCKCC win was the first in 11 contests with the Cavaliers although the two teams battled to two ties last season. JCCC leads the all-time series 7-1-3.