The Jefferson City Jays believe they have found something.
"We were fun to watch attacking," Jays coach Scott Blake said Thursday night after Jefferson City defeated the Battle Spartans 4-2 in Central Missouri Activities Conference action at the 179 Soccer Park. "We've been able to train some pattern play, some of the movements we're making are actually designed.
"We still have a lot of improvement to make on those, but I think we've found our identity and our shape that we're going to carry forward. It allows us to go forward when our opponent allows it, but it gives us some defensive stability to defend if we need to."
The first 25 minutes Thursday night were among the best Jefferson City has played this season.
Dee White got the Jays on the board a little more than five minutes into the contest, lining a shot that went through the hands of the Battle keeper into the net.
Jefferson City doubled its lead about seven minutes later. White dribbled the ball to the end line and drove toward the goal before passing to an open Tate Riley for the score to make it 2-0.
It was Riley's first varsity goal.
Jefferson City finished the half with an 8-4 edge in total shots and a 5-2 advantage in those on goal.
The Jays made it 3-0 less than two minutes into the second half. White hit a shot that was stopped by the Battle keeper, but Lennox Quainoo was there to smash the rebound into the net.
"It was like a wild, wild west shootout at the 179 Soccer Park," Blake said.
As time wound down in the second half, it looked like the Jays were on cruise control to the victory. But the Spartans didn't go away.
"There were some moments that were frustrating," Blake said. "But give Battle credit, they're better and they are competitive. They tested us tonight with some hard-working kids."
Bryant Mendez of Battle lined a shot from distance into the goal with just under 12 minutes to go to cut Jefferson City's lead to 3-1.
About six minutes later, Carter Jones of the Spartans scored and all of the sudden, Battle (6-8) had cut the Jays' lead to 3-2.
"The second half has been tough for us a lot this year," Blake said. "We didn't control the tempo very well in the second half, but unlike a lot of the other matches, this time we got the result."
With 2:58 remaining, White made a long run with the ball toward the Battle net before dishing it off to Riley for his second goal of the night to make it 4-2.
"It was a breakout night for Tate," Blake said.
White finished with a goal and two assists.
"Signature game for him," Blake said. "We know he's capable of playing like this and it was great to see him do it."
Jefferson City (8-7 overall, 1-4 CMAC) will host Helias (2-11, 1-3) on Monday at the 179 Soccer Park.
The JV game will start at 5 p.m., with the varsity contest to follow around 6:45 p.m.
In Thursday's JV game, Battle defeated Jefferson City 4-2.