For one half, the Jefferson City Jays wanted to work on some things. The other half, they went out and just played.
It was a success on both ends.
Jefferson City concentrated on defense in a scoreless first half Tuesday night against Battle at Eddie Horn Field, then scored twice in the first 10 minutes of the second half to post a 2-0 victory against the Spartans.
"I feel sorry for people that may have left at halftime," Jays coach Scott Blake said. "The second half there was some entertainment value."
Jefferson City did not allow a shot to Battle in the contest.
"Looking ahead, we wanted to work on a different bit of defending," Blake said. "The defenders worked on not letting the balls get behind them.
"That first half was a bit of an investment."
And while it was a success, it did put a bit of a crimp into the offense.
"Because we were so focused on the defense, I think someone could say that we looked a little disjointed," Blake said.
That changed after intermission.
"At the half, we told them to just go out an play and see what you can do," Blake said.
It didn't take long for the Jays to show what they could do as Max Allen got Jefferson City on the board less than three minutes into the half, scoring from 20 yards out.
Six minutes later, Brendan Drury doubled Jefferson City's advantage with a boomer nearly 30 yards from the goal. Chad Hamler got an assist.
Blake was happy to see the Jays score from long distance.
"There have been times this season where we have been reluctant to shoot those," he said. "Instead, we try to dribble it in and get the perfect piece of grass and just tap one in."
The Jays then settled into a possession style, which included getting the reserves into the game for the final 15 minutes.
Nick Ryan and Toby Hughes combined in goal in the shutout for Jefferson City, its eighth of the season.
Battle is now 4-8-1.
Jefferson City (9-5), winners of eight of its last nine games, will will be tested defensively later this week when they travel to Burlington, Iowa, for the Goal 4 The Goal Classic.
"What we did tonight, we will have to do Thursday, Friday and Saturday," Blake said.
Jefferson City opens the event against Marquette Jesuit of Milwaukee at 5:15 p.m. Thursday. Marquette, which posted a 5-0 win recently against Rockhurst, is ranked No. 19 in the country.
"Right out of the gate, we know it's going to be tough," Blake said. "They are going to be good at every single position."
The Jays will then face either Lake Forest (Ill.) Academy or St. Thomas Aquinas of Overland Park, Kan., in the bracketed tournament Friday. The Jays will then close the tournament with a game Saturday.
"We're in the top bracket and we're excited about that," Blake said. "There is no easy game, no matter which way you go in the bracket."
It will be as tough a three-day stretch as Jefferson City has played in recent memory.
"We have the grind at the beginning of the season and now we're getting back into the grind again," Blake said. "But we have a little more confidence in both our offense and our defending than we did at the start of the year."
The date has been changed for Jefferson City's game next week against Helias.
The game, originally scheduled for Monday, will be played Tuesday at the Crusader Athletic Complex. The JV game will start at 5 p.m., followed by the varsity contest around 6:45 p.m.