The Jefferson City Lady Jays entered the soccer season wanting to leave their mark in the history of the program.
So far, they have. And there are still goals ahead, starting tonight when Jefferson City travels to face the Blue Springs South Jaguars in a Class 3 sectional contest.
"We wanted to have one of the best records and go farther in the state tournament than anyone has gone," Lady Jays coach Matt Stacey said.
The Lady Jays, ranked No. 9 in the latest state poll by the Missouri State High School Soccer Coaches Association, will take an impressive record of 16-3-1 into the 6 p.m. contest. And with a win, Jefferson City would be making its third trip to the quarterfinal round of the state tournament to join the 1998 and 2009 teams.
Stacey knew it was a talented group when the season started.
"I just wasn't sure how long it would take for us to come together as a group." he said. "We adapted pretty quick."
Blue Springs South (12-5-1) captured just the third district title in the history of its girls program with wins against Sedalia Smith-Cotton (7-0) and Hickman (1-0).
The seven goals against Smith-Cotton was a bit of an aberration for the Jaguars, who scored just 31 times in their other 17 games, with 10 of those coming in a win against Raytown South.
"They're a good team," Stacey said. "You can't find a weak spot on the field."
The Jaguars have scored a single goal in seven games this season, but have a record of 4-2-1 in those contests. That means it starts with the defense for the Jaguars, as senior keeper Kylie Young has posted a school-record 11 shutouts.
Teams not only have problems scoring against Blue Springs South, they have problems even getting shots. In the district title game, Hickman managed just two shots in the 1-0 loss.
"The backline keeps it tight, they drop all the time," Stacey said.
Jefferson City, which will take an eight-game winning streak into the contest, is averaging just less than three goals per game. Eden Hoogveld leads three Lady Jays in double figures in goals with 13. Sarah Luebbert and Natalie Vance have 11 each. Luebbert leads with 11 assists.
With Becca Sturgess in goal, the Lady Jays have shut out nine opponents.
The game will be played on the artificial surface at Blue Springs South. Jefferson City has played a handful of games on artificial surfaces this season and this season's weather woes have prepared the team for tonight.
"As much as we've practiced inside in the gym this year, we know about fast surfaces," Stacey said.
The Lady Jays will have to make an adjustment after preparing for and playing a pair of games on the high-grass field in the district tournament at Lebanon.
"We're fit and we should be able to keep the ball in play," Stacey said.
The Lady Jays captured their first district title in four years when they rallied from a 2-0 deficit to post a 3-2 overtime victory against the Camdenton Lady Lakers.
"It's a young, scrappy team and that showed how much the girls want to win," Stacey said.
With a win, Jefferson City would host either Nixa (21-3) or Springfield Kickapoo (10-12) in the quarterfinals Saturday.
"I know the girls want one more game on our home field," Stacey said.
The 6 p.m. start today is tentative. A Class 2 sectional between Notre Dame de Sion and Grain Valley will be played at Blue Springs South starting at 4 p.m.