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story.lead_photo.caption Soccer players warm up at Eddie Horn Field prior to the Jefferson City Jays hosting the Hickman Kewpies on Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020. Photo by Tom Rackers / News Tribune.

You can see where it could get a little boring.

With a strong defense in front of him, Jefferson City keeper Toby Hughes often doesn't see a lot of action around the Jays' net. But when needed, Hughes has proven to be ready.

"We don't give up a lot of shots and when that happens, a keeper can be a spectator and spectators aren't always ready to make big plays," Jefferson City coach Scott Blake said Tuesday night after the Jays blanked the Hickman Kewpies 4-0 at Eddie Horn Field.

"But Toby is always ready to make big plays. He can go long stretches, but then be ready to make the play when we need it."

The Kewpies managed just five shots in the contest, three on goal. But Hughes had to come up big on a couple of those to keep Hickman off the scoreboard for Jefferson City's third shutout this season.

"He is good for two or three big saves in a game," Blake said. "That's what you want as a coach from your keeper."

It was a bit of a feeling out process early, as both teams were patient when they were on offense.

The Jays got on the board about 14 minutes into the contest when Breck McGrail put back a rebound after a shot by Cale Heiberger bounced off the hands of the Kewpie keeper.

But that was all the scoring in the opening 40 minutes.

"We've been in position to get some early leads so far this season, so having to grind out for an extended period of time was something I was looking forward to because we need it," Blake said. "We had to show we could defend against a quality side. It got a little dicey at times, but the maturity level of our experienced players showed."

It took less than three minutes into the second half for Jefferson City to double its advantage. Ethan Blake served a ball to the far corner of the Hickman net and Heiberger was there to head it in.

Heiberger didn't get a lot on the shot, but he didn't need to.

"Sometimes all you need is just that little redirect of the ball," Scott Blake said. "It doesn't have to be much, just a little to ruin the position of the keeper. Cale just changed the angle to get it into the net.

"The ball placement was great and Cale's position was great."

Jefferson City made it 3-0 with 11 minutes remaining on a goal by Kole Kauffman, assisted by Ethan Blake.

"Ethan was really on tonight in distribution," Scott Blake said.

It was Kauffman's first varsity goal.

"If you have subs that can score, that's a blessing," Blake said.

Ethan Blake closed the scoring with seven minutes left, drilling a long shot from outside the box.

Hickman is now 2-1 this season, 0-1 in the Central Missouri Activities Conference.

When the storms rolled through Tuesday afternoon, there was a question whether the game would be played. It's nothing new for Jefferson City this season, which has had weather delays in two of its first three contests.

"It's nuts, you have to be ready for anything to be a Jays soccer fan this season," Blake said. "Our opponent is just along for the ride."

The coaches decided not to play the junior varsity contest before the varsity game.

"The field held up well, but we weren't sure we could get two games on it," Blake said. "We had to prioritize the varsity game because it was a CMAC game and potentially a district game.

"Hickman was here, we wanted to make the best of it."

The JV game will be rescheduled later this season.

Jefferson City (4-0, 2-0) will host Harrisonville on Thursday. The JV game will start at 5 p.m., followed by the varsity contest around 6:30 p.m.

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