One of the more highly anticipated regular season matchups in the NJCAA took place on Saturday between the #9 Division I ranked Schoolcraft Ocelots and the #10 Division 3 Ranked Delta Lady Pioneers.
Both teams came out confident in their abilities, but also cautious, due to the respect for the talent on the field. In the first 25 minutes of action, the game was played mostly around the midfield as both teams were fighting for possession.
In the 33rd minute, Delta was fouled going to the goal in the penalty area setting them up with a golden opportunity to take the lead. Lindsey Musser calmly stepped up and drove the ball to the corner of the goal giving the Lady Pioneers a 1-0 advantage. The lead was short lived however, as just before the end of the half, Schoolcraft would have an attacking mid drive through the defense and take a shot that was saved by Kalyn Breckenridge. The rebound would trickle out to the far post and was shot into the corner of the goal by Megan Swirczek making the halftime score 1-1. Delta went into the halftime break tied with a team from a higher division, and went into the intermission trying to build a strategy for the second half.
"I was extremely proud of this team and their effort today was outstanding," Head Coach Paul Stenglein said after the game. "Schoolcraft is a very good team that plays very disciplined and physical. It was a great test for us and we expect that this game will be a great way to get prepared for postseason play."
The start of the second half featured a very similar look to the start of the game as both teams were being patiently aggressive trying to set up their attacks. Fifteen minutes into the second half, Schoolcraft was awarded a penalty kick and Jamila Thombs converted the goal to give the Ocelots their first lead of the afternoon at 2-1. Thombs then converted her second goal of the contest extending their lead to 3-1 which went on to be the final score of the game.
"The ladies played well today and we just ran into a Schoolcraft team that played better over the whole game." Stenglein said. "We look forward to seeing them next month at Delta."
Next up for Delta, they will host University of Michigan at Dearborn on Wednesday, September 13 at 4. The two schools did not meet a season ago and will be ready for their mid-week matchup.