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Jackson-Milton edges Mineral Ridge, 1-0

GIRARD — The Mineral Ridge Rams and the Jackson-Milton Blue Jays met under the lights at Girard’s Arrowhead Stadium on Thursday night, a chilly, rainy, fall evening.

Senior captain Brandon Strickland scored the game’s lone goal, from long distance, as the Blue Jays were victorious 1-0 to improve to 3-9-3.

“It was from about 25 yards out on the far right side of the field,” Strickland said. “I’m a lefty. I saw that goal wide open. I’ve been ripping those in practice. I thought, here’s my chance. It was a killer goal to get, especially against Ridge. It definitely made my week.”

Each team features a co-ed roster with the girls being major contributors for both clubs.

Blue Jay senior captain Austin Stanke had a first-half shot stopped by Mineral Ridge freshman goalie Landon Pal.

Blue Jay sophomore Bianca Gancarz kept advancing the ball down the sideline and her teammates, Daniel Spalding and sophomore captain Kayna Yasher, played great defense.

Mineral Ridge’s Elias Clarke had a solid strike that was blocked by Jackson-Milton freshman goalie Sam Conn.

Senior Brayden Lowe was working hard as he dribbled the ball all over the field. Lowe broke away, but Blue Jay senior Hughston Lockner used his great speed to keep up as the teams battled through a scoreless first half.

“It was definitely a hard-fought victory,” Blue Jays coach Craig Fetkovich said. “Ridge is a conference rival for us. We lost 1-0 the first time we played. This is the first time we’ve beaten them in the five years I’ve been coach here.”

Clarke had a little chip shot for Mineral Ridge (5-8-1) that went too high and sailed over the net.

“I give all the credit to Jackson-Milton,” Mineral Ridge coach Ted Gaydosh said. “I thought they wanted it more than we did. They were challenging everything. It’s been a heartbreaker of a season. We’ve lost three in a row, all by one goal. We’re young. We’ve made some mistakes. Hopefully, we’ll learn from them and be stronger going into next year.”

Sophomore Kylee Fetkovich was giving it her all for Jackson-Milton. Conn came out of goal and played offense. He nearly added another score for the Blue Jays, but his shot banged off the side of the goal.

Stanke moved in to play goalkeeper, as the Blue Jays normally rotate their keepers.

Junior Ethan Smallsreed tried to tie the game as the clock was ticking down late. Spalding wasn’t having it, as he raced to send the ball out of harm’s way.

“We’re 10 times better than we were when I was a freshman,” Strickland said. “Our losses don’t reflect how we play. It’s amazing. Honestly, this is the best team I’ve played on in four years.”

The Blue Jays coach agreed with Strickland.

“I feel like we’re better than our record shows,” Fetkovich said. “The kids have battled every game. It was a great way to end the regular season.”

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