One goal stood between the 20th-ranked Blinn College women’s soccer team and a Region XIV South Division crown Friday.
And although a 1-0 loss to region rival Jacksonville College prevented the Buccaneers from winning their first-ever outright conference title, Blinn will soon once again find itself exactly where it wants to be.
“We’re in the playoffs; that’s all that matters now and it’s time to prepare,” Buccaneers head coach Alexandria Jackson told her team after Friday’s match.
Had Blinn defeated Jacksonville, it would have won the South Division title in the first season of split divisions in Region XIV. Though the Bucs fell short of that historic achievement at Rankin Field inside Hohlt Park in Brenham, Texas, that won’t stop them from competing in their fourth consecutive Region XIV Tournament. Blinn is 11-4 overall and finished 8-3 in the region, and judging by the hard work and grit on display against the Jaguars, the Bucs are likely to be a tough task for their first-round opponent.
(Pictured: Blinn College’s Rileigh Toner, 25, chases down the ball during a match against Jacksonville College on Oct. 20, 2023)
“These girls stick it out no matter what … no matter what the scoreboard says or who they’re facing,” Jackson said. “That’s a product of what we preach here at Blinn and the families these players come from … families that stress the value of hard work and toughness.”
Jacksonville has one match remaining in the regular season, a home tilt against Angelina College on Tuesday, Oct. 24, which could cause a three-way tie for first in the South standings and enforce tie-breaker rules. Jacksonville is currently 7-2-1 in the region while Angelina is 6-3-1. Blinn’s first-round playoff opponent will be determined next week and the Bucs will open the playoffs either at home or on the road on Friday, Oct. 27.
Blinn and Jacksonville played to a defensive stalemate during Friday’s first half before the Jaguars broke up the scoreless tie in the 51st minute.
The Bucs peppered Jacksonville’s goal with scoring opportunities, outshooting the Jaguars 13-3 overall with a 9-0 edge in corner kicks. However, each Blinn shot was seemingly a foot too far left or right of its mark, or was deflected by a timely placed head, hand or foot. Sophomore Rileigh Toner had four shots, while sophomore Brianna Hoffman and freshman MaKayla Police tallied three apiece.
“The girls played their hearts out tonight,” Jackson added. “Tonight just wasn’t our night and it doesn’t take away from the fact that we’ve had a phenomenal season that gets to continue in the playoffs.”
Blinn has competed in intercollegiate athletics since 1903 and captured 44 NJCAA national championships since 1987.