Fresh off what could end up being the biggest win of the regular season, Jefferson City was due for a little bit of a letdown.
That was still more than enough to beat a strong Rolla squad Wednesday.
"Coming off of (a 2-1 victory against Class 3 No. 4) Marquette, we were kind of a mess really," Jefferson City head coach Eddie Horn said following the Jays' 2-1 victory against Rolla at the 179 Soccer Park. "That was a great result for us Saturday. I think everybody thought we would just show up and everybody would just roll over because we beat Marquette. Found out that wasn't the case. In all fairness, Rolla's a tough team to play against. It just wasn't a very good game for us."
"This was just kind of a grind it out, not at your best night. You got a result and you take it and move on."
Rolla, ranked third in Class 2, controlled the early portions of the game. The Bulldogs were finally rewarded with a goal at the 18:22 mark of the opening half.
"I thought for the first 20 minutes they really had us," Horn said. "They came out and pressed. We didn't know what to do, stood on the ball, didn't move it very fast. Got frustrated. They score."
A long ball was misplayed by the Jefferson City defense, gifting Rolla's Aaron Froehlich with a breakaway. With the Jays' goalie venturing out of his net to try to slide-tackle the ball away from him, Froehlich deftly chipped the ball over the sprawling keeper into the net for the goal.
"That Froehlich kid scored 57 goals last year for them," Horn said. "He made a good play. That kind of hurt a little bit."
Rolla's score came just minutes after Jefferson City's Marcus Woodruff banged a shot off the post. After falling behind 1-0, the Jays woke up a little bit and eventually drew level thanks to the work of Aaron Crane.
Crane took on a defender in the box before being tripped up and awarded a penalty kick. Mason Vonderhaar stepped up to the spot and slid the ball into the right netting to knot the game at 1 with 13:18 to go before halftime.
"We still weren't playing well, but we did enough. Then we got the PK, leveled the game and it kind of swung to our favor a little bit," Horn said.
Jefferson City found the winner at the 7:37 mark of the first half with another bit of brilliance from Crane. The senior midfielder played a beautiful through-ball to Woodruff up the middle, setting the forward up on a breakaway. The Jays' leading goal-scorer provided an admirable finish, slotting the ball into the left corner of the net for his seventh tally of the season.
"Crane made a nice pass going to goal," Horn said. "That was big-time."
Woodruff had a couple chances to add insurance in the second half, curling a shot just past right post on a breakaway and later being tripped up on a breakway in the box that went without a whistle.
Rolla was unlucky not to equalize in the second half, having a header tipped over the crossbar by a lunging Zach Brooks midway through before Froehlich missed out on a second goal when he chipped a shot off the crossbar with three minutes before time.
"We were just terrible in the back tonight, we really were," Horn said. "As crazy as it sounds because we won, I should shut up. It was not our best performance.
"Rolla's decent though. I need to give them more credit. They'll win a lot of games. It was their first loss of the year. They're not a dog. I was just disappointed with our play."
Jefferson City and Rolla finished even with 13 shots apiece, while the Jays held a 9-8 edge in shots on goal.
Rolla falls to 3-1 on the season. One of those victories was a 4-3 overtime victory against Class 3 No. 6 Rock Bridge.
Jefferson City (4-0) hosts Quincy (Ill.) on Saturday.