Lady Crusaders host Lady Jays in soccer

Two of the state's best set to clash

It’s a postseason-type game featuring two teams with realistic chances of making deep postseason runs.

And then there’s the whole rivalry thing when the Helias Lady Crusaders (12-7-1, No. 5 in Class 2) and Jefferson City Lady Jays (16-3-1, No. 4 in Class 3) will square off tonight in a battle of top-five teams at the 179 Soccer Park.

“It’s just one game, but it’s a fun night and everyone is excited,” Helias coach Brad Dempsey said. “How often do you get two top-five teams that play in the same city with home fields next to each other?

“You know everyone is going to compete to the best of their abilities in this game.”

Lady Jays coach Eddie Horn echoed those sentiments.

“It’s a great chance to showcase girls soccer,” he said. “Obviously the community is producing good players and it’s a great chance to see them play.”

Helias, the home team tonight, is coming off a 10-0 win Monday at Warrenburg. It was the second time this season the Lady Crusaders have scored 10 goals in a game. They’ve scored nine in two other contests and are averaging just under four goals per game.

“Helias is a very dangerous team, we are going to be tested, that’s for sure,” Horn said.

Horn doesn’t want anyone to be fooled by the fact Helias has lost seven times.

“They’re in every game, they just haven’t quite gotten the results they’ve been looking for when it comes to wins and losses against a schedule that’s probably more difficult than ours,” he said.

The Lady Jays have used a strong defense to climb in the state rankings. On Monday, Jefferson City blanked Rolla 2-0 for its 14th shutout of the season. The Lady Jays have given up just 11 goals this season, with five of those coming in a pair of games at last weekend’s Tournament of Champions in Burlington, Iowa.

“They are very organized, which you expected from an Eddie Horn-coached team,” Dempsey said. “They have an edge to them, they are very physical, they play with passion and like they enjoy the game. We have a lot of respect for them.”

Dempsey said his team will be looking to control the pace of the game tonight.

“We need to keep the ball on the ground and get good first touches,” he said. “If we can do that and prevent counter-attacks, I like our chances. If we don’t, I don’t.”

On the other side, the Lady Jays will try to limit the number of scoring chances the Lady Crusaders will have on restarts. Jefferson City had multiple fouls in their defensive end Monday night against Rolla, but didn’t give up a goal.

“If we continue to do that, teams will punish us for that,” Horn said. “Like the one we’re playing (tonight). They will take advantage of that.”

Helias and Jefferson City have seven common opponents. The Lady Crusaders, who have played Rock Bridge twice, are 8-0 on those games with a 35-6 edge in goals. The Lady Jays are 7-0 with a 24-1 scoring advantage.

One thing is for sure, it will be the biggest crowd either team has played in front of this season. And everything all that attention brings with it.

“We could act like there’s no pressure, but that’s not true,” Dempsey said. “We both want to win that rivalry game.”

Horn said, “Nobody wants to lose this game because of the bragging rights. Plus, it’s a great tuneup for the playoffs because it’s a great chance to see how players handle the pressure.”

Jefferson City won last year’s game 1-0.

The JV game will start at 5 p.m., with the varsity contest to follow around 6:45 p.m.

Comments

Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Please review our Policies and Procedures before registering or commenting

News Tribune - comments