There’s strong evidence that Redlands High product Karen Jacobs, named Player of the Year in San Bernardino Valley College’s Pacific Coast Athletic Conference last November, is set up to turn a small NAIA women’s soccer conference on its ear this fall.
First up, though, was picking her collegiate landing spot.
There was a trip to Eastern Oregon. “It took me an hour to warm up to the cold.”
Not many California colleges were contacting her. There didn’t seem to be a match between Jacobs and, say, Cal State San Bernardino, which is in dire need of goal-scoring talent.
“I was in a pickle trying to pick a college.”
There might’ve been 40 to 50 colleges in contact with this aggressive, hard-nosed, speed-freaking, goal-scoring finisher.
A finisher is a goal-scoring specialist that can nudge one past the goalkeeper with a knee, an ankle, a solid left or right foot -- any body part that can propel a ball.
While choosing her landing spot after SBVC -- Louisiana State University-Alexandria, a small NAIA campus -- Jacobs had more than just an angle.
She had connections.
SBVC product Jordan DeJongh, a Citrus Valley High rival during Jacobs’ prep days, has already played out her eligibility at LSUA. Two other SBVC teammates, Morgan Simmang and Stephanie Doran, were headed for Alexandria.
Said Jacobs: “We all said, ‘I’ll go if you go.’ ”
Instant chemistry, she said.
That the Generals finished 9-6-4 overall, plus a 7-2-2 mark in Red River Conference play is just the beginning. Dropping a 2-0 overtime playoff match against LSU-Shreveport last November just meant one thing.
LSUA, which scored one goal in three RRC matches, needs a goal-scorer.
“I just want to go make an impact,” said Jacobs.
Jacobs, a 5-foot-1 attacker with speed, clever moves and high-level soccer IQ, might just fit the bill.
Jacobs, said her SBVC coach Kristin Hauge, “is definitely a (NCAA Division I) talent, so it was quite a signing for LSUA.
“She is a true goal-scorer.”
SBVC TRIO LINING UP FOR LSUA
If the Jacobs-Simmang-Doran trio can help lift LSUA like they did SBVC -- which reached last year’s State Final Four -- then watch out American Mideast Conference.
“Karen came in with great speed,” said Hauge, noting her quality finishes and strong work ethic, “but her soccer IQ grew tremendously in her time here.”
On a side that nearly won last season’s State JUCO title, Jacobs nailed 18 goals, 13 assists, named first-team All-Southern California and first-team All-State in addition to her PCAC Player of the Year honors.
Jacobs’ package of sophomore awards nearly mirrored that of her 2017 frosh season.
Soccer, though, is more than speed and talent. Said Hauge: “Day in and day out, (she was) absolutely the hardest working player on our team.”
A full-fledged, four-year Varsity career at Redlands High left an imprint -- over 50 goals and more than 30 assists over four first-team, all-league, CIF playoff seasons in which the Lady Terriers averaged 15 wins in a highly-competitive Citrus Belt League.
Jacobs-to-SBVC seemed curious.
“I was interested in her,” said Hauge, “but knew she was highly recruited because she was such a talent.”
Lauren Evans, who played on Hauge’s 2010 State championship team, was a Lady Terrier assistant coach during Jacobs’ tenure.
“My grades,” she said. “I got a D in English. I was so ashamed.”
Here’s what happened: Jacobs killed her social media accounts.
“I felt like I was always on my phone, checking people’s account, checking random people. I don’t need that. Just focus on school and soccer.”
SBVC was a fortunate landing spot.
There was no doubt what position Hauge would place Jacobs.
“We liked her best at striker,” said SBVC’s highly successful coach. “In that (central striking position), she found the ball on her foot more than if she played on the outside.”
Naturally, Hauge predicts Jacobs will take over the scoring attack at LSUA, which scored just 27 goals in its 19 matches last fall. In the post-season, the Generals won a shootout after a 0-0 deadlock, copped a 1-0 win, then got eliminated, 2-0.
Get it? That team needs goals.
PREPPED AT REDLANDS BEFORE SBVC
During her Redlands High days, Jacobs ran track & field in the spring, running in fall cross country meets. The running was a simple way of staying in shape for soccer. Jacobs, always a dart, was tabbed “Turbo” during her AYSO days. She was a bullet. So quick. No wonder she ran track.
“I love wearing my two rings,” said Jacobs.
Those two rings came in 2014 and 2015 when Redlands won back-to-back CIF Division 2 girls’ track & field titles.
Jacobs was a quarter-miler, half-miler, 1600-meter runner, whatever. “I did what they told me.”
Check out the lineup on Redlands High’s relays: It was school record-holder Claire Crowley (800), long jump champion Margaux Jones, all-around athlete Juanita Webster (two-time junior college state heptathlon champion) or CIF high jump champion Alisha Edwards -- all legends at Redlands High.
At times, coach April Berry inserted Jacobs into that relay mix.
“Crazy talented with Margaux, Alisha, Claire, Juanita. Halfway through the (2014 CIF championship) meet, Coach Berry came up to us and said, ‘Even if we finish last in the mile relay, we’ll beat Redondo Beach. She mapped out the points.’
“We were this little underdog school,” said Jacobs. “Redlands.”
That speed, plus the endurance, plus Jacobs’ soccer passions provided the background for her SBVC days, eventually landing at LSUA. She figured playing 60 to 70 matches a year, counting 25 RHS matches, 30 fall club matches with Pateadores, plus 10 to 15 springtime showcases and tournaments.
Speed would only take Jacobs so far. Those Hauge-formed drills at SBVC improved her finishing skills.
In the end, it was DeJongh who kept pressing Jacobs on behalf of LSUA coach Nea Sunila. DeJongh kept telling Jacobs, “We need forwards. She set up a phone call (with Sunila).”
There were contacts with Loyola-Marymount and Oakland University, among others. “Overwhelming,” Jacobs called it.
She’ll pay rent. Everything else is covered by LSUA.
The question is: At gametime, who’s going to cover Jacobs?
“Plain and simple,” said Hauge, “(Jacobs) is a stud and just makes everyone on the field better.”