A formation change made all the difference.
Struggling to find offense, Helias moved an extra forward up top, switching from a 4-4-2 alignment to a 3-4-3. The move paid off, as the Lady Crusaders scored two late goals to beat Quincy (Ill.) 2-0 on Saturday afternoon at the 179 Soccer Park.
"In the second half, I felt like we couldn't do anything," Helias head coach Brad Dempsey said. "We kind of came up with a plan. What we did, I went with three forwards. I normally don't do that. I had to do something. I pulled Taylor Hagenhoff and put her at center back and went with three backs.
"I put Morgan Rundle at the center (forward). She's had a great week, and she started making things happen for us just by being out there. She's big, she's strong. She started making us go."
Helias mounted more and more pressure with the additional forward, and eventually won a free kick from the top of the box, just outside the semi-circle.
Hagenhoff stepped up and blasted a low shot that required a fully extended diving save from Quincy goalkeeper Alex Boyd. Helias' Jordan Poire was right on the doorstep to punch it in for the game-winning goal with 13:52 left in the game.
"Taylor put one on goal, it was a great shot," Dempsey said, "and Jordan did what we teach, she followed it up."
The Lady Crusaders switched back to the more conventional 4-4-2 after that go-ahead goal. Yet, Helias kept the pressure up.
The Lady Crusaders added an insurance goal with 7:49 to play thanks to a brilliant effort from Kendall Smith. The sophomore streaked down the right side and blasted what could have passed for either a shot or a pass. The ball looped over the outstretched arms of Boyd, hit the underside of the crossbar and bounced into the goal. While Tiffany Weaver was there on the doorstep to make sure it was in, even getting credit for the goal over the loudspeaker, it was Smith who put the ball in the net.
"Kendall made a great individual play down here and we won the game. The line judge told me it was in," Dempsey said of Smith's shot.
Helias held a 12-7 edge in shots, including an 8-6 advantage in shots on goal. One of those was a left-footed blast by Weaver that rattled off the crossbar five minutes into the second half.
Still, Dempsey knows his team can be better.
"I think they know that they're better than the way they played today," he said. "I don't have the answer for it right now. I know we'll be excited when Becky Roberts comes back. She's been out the last four games with a hamstring pull. She'll be back for us soon.
"The girls are doing a great job, but she's a big piece, part of what we do. We're fighting through it without her. With that said, our team is coming together and we're battling through what we have to do, with our schedule and injuries. We're happy right now."
Liz Czarnecki picked up the shutout in goal.
"That team wanted to beat us bad," Dempsey said. "We really struggled in the first half. We kept them out of the goal. They had a few good chances. Liz was there, she was there all day, like always, doing her job. She saved us. Our defense held for the most part all day, except for when Liz had to save us."
Helias (5-4) travels Tuesday to Moberly looking to extend its four-game winning streak.
"A game like that, when you come out on top, you'll take it. We'll take it," Dempsey said.
Helias won the JV game 3-0 to improve to 7-2-1 on the season.
Sydnee Kliethermes scored a pair of goals and Morgan Rundle added a score. Taryne Barton, Lauren Brune and Rundle all picked up assists.
Johanna Schokker and Olivia Wolken combined for the shutout in goal.