Courtesy of Hastings College Athletics

Gilbert’s talent and leadership inspires her team, hopes for nationals

As unpredictable as the game of soccer can be, Hastings College’s Jacqueline “Jackie” Gilbert, a junior forward from Chandler, Arizona, has been as consistent as they come this season.

Consider these stats: In the Broncos’ eight wins, four of them have been decided by one goal. Gilbert, who has five game-winning goals on the season, has scored the game-winning goal in all four of those games. In each of the Broncos’ two losses, they have lost by one goal and Gilbert has been held scoreless.

“I guess when it comes down to crunch time, I think of ‘how can I help my team best?’, especially with this last game against Dordt. I sprained my ankles, both of them in the Northwestern game, and I wasn’t really sure how I was going to do. But I think Coach Jade (Jade Ovendale, Head Coach) had a lot of faith in me where I could help my team to the best of my ability,” Gilbert said.

With two-thirds of the scoring from last year’s National Championship Qualifying team gone, Gilbert realized she had to step up. Already this year, Gilbert has scored more goals (10) than she did all of last year (9). On top of that, she has been much more efficient. Last year Gilbert’s goals-per-shot was 20%; this year, it is 35%.

“I did a lot of one-on-one training with one of my club coaches back home (in Arizona), her name is coach, Barb Chura. A lot of my success comes from my past club coaches, but I worked with her all through COVID-19 and through the summer, and then I worked with Coach Bruno (Bruno Moreira, Graduate Assistant) in the offseason before we went on our abroad trip. When I came back, I definitely did a lot of one-on-ones with him because I wanted to improve my shot, my turning, my foot skills, and all that stuff,” Gilbert said.

Two of Gilbert’s game-winning goals came in double overtime, one against Jamestown and the other in the aforementioned Dordt game. She has shown that she feels no pressure to score in close games and articulated that those are just moments to help the team win.

“I’ve always just loved the game and playing the game. And I know that when I put pressure on myself, I don’t perform to the best of my ability. So I think of soccer as a lot of fun,” Gilbert said.

Gilbert, who is known for her team-first attitude, often shines the light on her teammates and their adaptability as the reason for her success.

“Our team is very adaptable and coachable. We are able to change formations whenever we need to, we don’t stick to just one. It makes it really hard for teams to defend us because they don’t know what formation we’ll pull out,” Gilbert said. “We have a lot of smart, intelligent players that can just change the way that we play and then move forward from there.”

Now a junior, Gilbert has taken on a bigger leadership role and has not been shy about letting her teammates know what she expects from them.

“My biggest goal this year, and I expressed this to my team, is that we’re gonna win nationals. If you don’t believe it, there’s no reason for you to be here. And I think we definitely have the potential, the talent and this team is awesome. I think that we definitely could bring home a national championship this year,” Gilbert said.

While the NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) National Championship won’t take place until April 2021, Gilbert is preparing for that by making sure the Broncos take care of business the rest of the regular season.

Gilbert’s message for the rest of the regular season was simple.

“Get business done early so we can have a smooth ride later and win nationals. Take care of our bodies over the break and then come back fresh and stronger,” Gilbert said.

Gilbert and the Broncos will be back in action on Nov. 7 at Lloyd Wilson Field against the Mount Marty Lancers. The game will start at 5:30 p.m.