Helias hoping for return trip

Helias wants to go back-to-back.

The Lady Crusaders will look to make a second straight Final Four appearance when they host Carl Junction at 2 p.m. today in a Class 2 state quarterfinal game at the 179 Soccer Park.

“It would mean a lot to our school, to our program, to our kids, and we’d be really excited,” Helias first-year head coach Brad Dempsey said. “And we’d go there and compete if we can get there.

“This is a huge part of my life. I set goals like this for my teams. I dream about moments like this. To be able to do it with this group, it would be great. We’ll show up ready to play. I know these girls want to go back.”

Eighth-ranked Helias (15-8) appears to be the favorite against unranked Carl Junction (19-5).

“I think we’ll be looked at that way (as the favorite), because we were in the state rankings,” Dempsey said. “People are going to say that they’re the underdog against us, which is fine. We’re going to play the game. We’re going to do everything we have to do to win the game. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter who the favorite is. It matters who wins.”

The Lady Crusaders have two opponents in common with Carl Junction — Nixa and Springfield Catholic. Helias went 1-1 in those games, falling to Nixa (2-1) and beating Springfield Catholic (4-0). Carl Junction went 0-2, losing to Nixa (6-3) and Springfield Catholic (5-1).

“The first thing I told the girls is, ‘Don’t think you can come in here and think it’s going to be a walk in the park to the Final Four,’” Dempsey said. “‘Don’t start looking at their schedule and who beat them. They’re going to come in here and we’re going to get everything they have. It’s going to be a battle and we have to be prepared for that.”

Carl Junction features four 20-goal scorers. Sydney Solberg leads the way with 29 goals and 20 assists, Callie Degani has found the back of the net 25 times, Taylor Beck has 24 goals and Anissa Williams has 23.

Helias also has appeared in the Final Four in 2000 and 2002. After the Lady Crusaders attempt to make it a fourth time, crosstown rival Jefferson City will try to reach the state semifinals for the first time in school history at 5:30 p.m. against Nixa.

“I’m going to tell you this. For two girls soccer teams in two different classes to be playing on the same day in the state quarterfinals, it means a lot to this city,” Dempsey said.

“We’ve got to keep doing this every year. We’ve got to let St. Louis know, ‘Hey, we got a spot here in central Missouri where we can play too.’ I just hope everybody comes out. I’m excited for the day, I’m excited for our team, I’m excited for Jeff City. How great would it be if we both advanced to the Final Four? That would be great for our city.”

See also:

Separate admissions for today's Jefferson City and Helias games

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