It was similar to two years ago.
Back then it was the Helias Crusaders who had a very good group of seniors heading into the crosstown soccer showdown against the Jefferson City Jays at the Crusader Athletic Complex.
This year, it's the Jays who are strong in the senior class. And with Monday night's game against the Crusaders scoreless at the half, Jays coach Scott Blake reminded his team of what happened two years ago.
"They were on paper better than us that year, but we were able to steal one," Blake said. "I told the boys while we were better on paper this time, they could come back and we didn't want the same thing to happen to us."
The Jays didn't let that happen, scoring three times in a 12-minute span in the second half to take a 3-0 victory.
"Their movement and connections were solid, they play off of each other very well," Helias coach Jay Hebenheimer said. "This is a team 18 years in the making and it shows."
Each team had its moments in the first half. The Jays had seven shots, but nothing too dangerous.
"We didn't really penetrate into the box, they were low-percentage shots," Blake said. "Credit to Helias for being organized, any time our goal-scorers got anywhere near the net, they were on them. We were playing OK, we just didn't have anything to show for it."
While the Crusaders had just two shots, Hebenheimer was more than pleased with the way his team played in the first 40 minutes.
"It was by far our best team half of the season," he said. "We didn't do a lot of exciting things, but we played very well. We stuck to the plan and our chemistry was as good as we've seen this year.
"We missed some opportunities to put the ball in the net, if we get the first goal, I think things change and their mentality changes a little bit."
Jefferson City got on the board a little less than five minutes into the second half. Ethan Blake drove down the right side toward the end line before threading a pass back toward the net to Bassil Ahmed. Ahmed knocked his shot into the net and it was 1-0.
"Ethan has gotten a few assists by driving deep and getting the ball back toward the net," Blake said. "And that was a great strike by Bassil."
Hebenheimer thought the Crusaders' defense got a little out of sorts on the play.
"We had a mental lapse," he said. "Ultimately, Bassil ran free on the box and got a very good pass from Ethan and that was an easy one to tuck away."
Jefferson City doubled its lead with 23:34 left in the half when Helias was issued a red card for a foul on the box on a player heading toward the goal. Darby Hall converted the penalty kick to make it 2-0.
"We had pressure on them, it just took us some time to get going," Blake said.
Hebenheimer disagreed with the call.
"We had two defenders there, I don't think you could tell exactly what happened," he said.
With the red card, Helias played the remainder of the contest down a player.
"It's a blessing we only let the one go in after being down a man," Hebenheimer said.
The Jays got their final goal four minutes later on a breakway by Ahmed.
"We were a little more like ourselves in the second half," Blake said. "We had some heavy legs after a busy few days, it just took us some time to get there."
Helias played its reserves for the final 15 minutes.
"It was not the result we were after, but we can build off this," Hebenheimer said.
It's the ninth straight win in the series for the Jays (15-2 overall, 5-0 Central Missouri Activities Conference). Jefferson City can wrap up an undefeated CMAC campaign with a win Saturday at Battle.
"It would be fantastic to win that first conference championship, that's something nobody can take away from you," Blake said.
The Jays are off until Friday when they will host Liberty: Wentzville. The JV game will start at 5 p.m., with the varsity to follow around 6:45 p.m.
On Saturday, Jefferson City will host Nixa in a varsity-only contest at 11 a.m. before going to Columbia to face Battle, starting with one half of a JV game at 3 p.m.
Helias (7-7, 2-3) is back in action at home Wednesday against Rolla. The JV game, shortened to one half, will start at 5 p.m. The varsity contest will begin around 6 p.m.
The Crusaders will also host Nixa on Saturday. The varsity-only contest will start at 4 p.m.
Monday's one half of a JV game between the Crusaders and Jays ended scoreless.