The first few weeks of the spring sports season were as gloomy as the sky for Jackson Hole High School teams.
The Broncs boys and girls soccer teams both carried a draw and two losses into the past week, and the boys lacrosse squad was riding an 0-4 start to the season.
That trend flipped entirely in a five- day stretch that began April 9 and wrapped up Saturday when the soccer teams made their road trip to Evanston.
For head coach Matt Hoelscher’s boys soccer team, it began with a 2-1 double-overtime victory over Green River on Tuesday. Two days later the Broncs knocked off Star Valley 5-2 at home, with Rico Vazquez notching two scores in the win.
And on Saturday, in Evanston, the flood gates opened.
Jackson rallied for an 8-1 victory, and after staring down an 0-2-1 start, the Broncs now sit at 3-2-1 after their flawless five-day stretch.
“I think we’re playing with more confidence right now,” Hoelscher said. “It was good to get three wins and score some goals to finish [against Evanston] and to get some momentum going.”
More confidence certainly follows suit after an eight-goal outing. Gerardo Duran and Danny Huerta led the way with a pair of goals each in the win.
Key to the run has been all the angles the Broncs can attack from. Each game brought with it a host of names finding the back of the net, and that will be a point of emphasis heading forward.
Hoelscher pointed to the play of Jafet Hernandez and Eduardo Martinez during the winning stretch, but the three wins were from a well-balanced effort and players embracing roles.
“Like I told the boys, we can be very dangerous from many different angles, and that’s what makes us good,” the coach said.
On the girls side
Head coach Kristen Pizzaro watched her team dominate possession in the first half in Tuesday’s victory over Star Valley, though neither team found a goal through the first 40 minutes.
That changed immediately in the second half. Less than two minutes into the half, Yael Sangros buried the first goal of the game, and by the time the final horn sounded Jackson had a 3-0 victory heading into its Saturday tilt with Evanston.
“We’re going to keep building on that momentum and hopefully go into Evanston on Saturday and do the same thing,” Pizarro said after Thursday’s game. “If we can come away from there with a win, I think we’re heading on the right track and that’s exactly what we want to do.”
And that’s exactly what they did. Jackson claimed a 1-0 victory over Evanston on the strength of a Natalie Joralemon goal and launched from last place in the 4A West conference to third after a perfect 3-0 five-day stretch.
Both the boys and girls soccer teams are back home on Friday against Rock Springs before heading to Green River on Saturday.
In the win column
The Jackson boys lacrosse season began as soon as practices started, and the lack of preparation showed in the team’s four-game losing streak to start the season.
But with the sun peaking out Saturday, so too did Jackson’s ability to come together for a total, all-four-quarters performance.
Jackson took a 7-2 lead into the final frame against Idaho Falls and immediately began pouring it on. Keegan Butler won back-to-back faceoffs, stormed the net and found teammates for quick goals on the way to a 10-2 victory.
“I would say we were struggling a little bit to finish the ball in the first three quarters,” head coach George Hein said. “I challenged the guys in the huddle, like ‘we’ve got to start putting some goals in the net,’ and it was good to see them come right out the gate in the fourth quarter and bury some.”
Not to be lost in the praise after Saturday’s win is goalie Gage Dwan. Hein said earlier this season Dwan was among the best goalies the region had to offer, and it showed Saturday.
Dwan recorded 13 saves in the victory, but, more than that, his presence in the goal gives an extra shot of confidence to a Jackson defense that Hein said is starting to trust one another.
“I feel goalies are always a little bit special,” Hein said. “They all have a little bit of a personality and his personality is very cool, calm and collected … Having him in there builds a lot of confidence for the defense, because he is so tried and tested and consistent.”
Jackson is back at it Saturday, when the team travels to Idaho Falls for a pair of games.
On the track
Jackson took a good portion of its athletes to Logan, Utah, for the Grizzly Invitational over the weekend and came home with a number of top marks and state qualifiers.
It’s an especially good sign for head coach Bill Willey, because between bad weather and spring break, his 100-plus athletes haven’t had much time training outdoors.
“Considering we took two weeks off for spring break, and we pretty much had to start from scratch,” he said, “we had a pretty good weekend in Utah.”
Leading the way was the girls 3,200-meter relay team of Kate Brigham, Parker Smith, Andie Cornish and Lily Brazil, which won in 10:21.40.
Brigham bounced back in the open 800 to place fifth in 2:27.08.
Juliet Menolascino added a third-place finish in the triple jump with a leap of 35 feet, 8.5 inches.
For the boys, Mac Staryk notched a second-place finish in the 1,600 in 4:29.97, Pearson Evans finished third in the triple jump at 40 feet, 8 inches, and Madden Hart vaulted 12 feet, 10 inches for a third-place finish in pole vault.
Jackson gets its first look at Wyoming competition this week, with the team heading to Star Valley today before competing in Evanston next Wednesday.