Jordan Eickelman established a reputation as a clinical finisher last season as a freshman for the Derby girls soccer team.
Darting toward the goal in the final five minutes of a tied game against undefeated Maize South on Thursday evening, Eickelman had two defenders rapidly closing in.
“Last season she may have put her head down and tried to go through those two or three girls,” Derby coach Robert Rhodes said. “But now people are eyeing Jordan more and she’s becoming a very good decision-maker on the ball.”
The maturation of Eickelman was on full display Thursday, as she drew the pair of defenders and laid off a perfect pass to Alexis Palmer, who slotted it in a narrow window between the keeper and the right frame for the game-winning goal in the 75th minute of Derby’s 2-1 victory over Maize South.
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It was a stunning reversal from a game that appeared destined for a tie, as Derby started a rally out of its back line that culminated with Hanna Newhouse sending a threatening through ball to Eickelman, who weaved through two defenders to create the eventual score.
“I just remember being super tired,” Eickelman said of the final play. “I saw two girls coming at me and I didn’t think there was any way I could get a shot off and I heard Alexis screaming my name, so I just played it off. After that, it was just amazing.”
Maize South won its first five games with a scoring margin of 27-0 because of the quality in its midfield, which allows it to typically control the game. That advantage was taken away Thursday, partly because of Derby’s defensive game plan but also due to extremely windy conditions.
That meant defending against the wind became crucial. After 38 minutes of error-free defending, Maize South suffered a momentary lapse on a corner kick right before halftime.
Derby’s Jordan Russell skied her corner, letting the wind play tricks on the ball. Maize South keeper Caroline Howard tried to grab it out of the air, missed, then a scramble ensued near the goal line that ended with Eickelman poking it in for a goal.
“I was expecting to go into the half 0-0,” Maize South coach Marlon Rios said. “I was definitely not expecting that.”
The Mavericks found the equalizer in the 58th minute on a set piece 35 yards away from goal. While Derby was busy setting up its wall, Maize South’s Saige Peebler quickly set her feet, planted, and let fly a free kick that barreled into the top-right netting of the goal.
“She just has a strong foot and that wind at her back made it easier to get it there,” Rios said. “I think she is playing with a ton of confidence and is proving why she is one of the top players in the Wichita area.”
But with one quick counter, Derby was able to hand Maize South its first loss and its first two goals of the season.
“That’s a pretty big accomplishment for us,” Rhodes said. “I think this is going to be a good confidence-boost for us.”
First half—Derby, Eickelman (Russell). Second half—Maize South, Peebler; Derby, Palmer (Eickelman). Shots—Derby 3-2—5; Maize South 2-3—5. Saves—Derby, DeCristoforo 2-2—4; Maize South, Howard 2-1—3.