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story.lead_photo.caption 179 Soccer Park was the scene of the varsity soccer match Sept. 21, 2021, between the Jefferson City Jays and School of the Osage. Photo by Tom Rackers / News Tribune.

It was a step in the right direction.

"I don't think we found our stability, but we're a step closer," Jefferson City coach Scott Blake said after the Jays used a pair of second-half goals to get past the School of the Osage Indians 2-0 at the 179 Soccer Park.

One big step forward for the Jays came with strong, smart play after taking the lead. The last 10 minutes, Jefferson City was good possessing the ball and not making turnovers that allowed School of the Osage to get anything started on the offensive end.

"The last two games we haven't done that well and it cost us a game in OT and we had to hang on in the other one," Blake said. "But tonight was a lot better."

Both teams had good chances to score in the first half, only to come up empty. The Indians finished with eight total shots in the half, including three on goal, while the Jays had five shots.

At the half, the Jays decided to change things around a little bit.

"We're still early in the season, we have to try everything and anything," Blake said. "Turn over any rock to see what we can find what we're made of, find our identity.

"It's no secret we've struggled to have an identity recently, so we have to keep looking."

One big move came at the start of the second half when Ryan Spraggs was moved from center back to the midfield.

"That's something we want to do as much as possible," Blake said. "We love Ryan's tackling and passing ability, but the problem is what it costs.

"We're robbing Peter to pay Paul to move him out of the defensive end. It's deciding when we can take the risk of bringing him out of the back to help in the midfield. It will be a game-by-game decision."

The Indians had a pair of good scoring chances about 10 minutes into the second half, only to be turned away on good saves by Jays keeper Parker Gourley.

"We give teams chances," Blake said. "But the big thing is where are we giving up those chances, from 30 yards out or at the top of the box?

"Tonight, it was mostly from outside."

Gourley finished with seven saves in the shutout.

Jefferson City got on the board with a little more than 25 minutes to play when sophomore Chuy Castro lined a shot from outside the top of the box over the keeper into the back of the net.

"That's 100 percent Chuy," Blake said. "He can strike a ball. He's hit at least four similar to that on the JV team since the summer.

"If he can find space, we want him to pull the trigger. What a strike."

It was Castro's first varsity goal of the season.

Jefferson City doubled its lead with about 10 minutes left. Aarush Deshpande tallied the score on a free kick that knuckled over the head of the keeper into the far side of the net.

"He's not been a guy we've put in for free kicks," Blake said. "But he was positive in most areas of his game tonight, so we let him take one."

Blake was glad to see the Jays score on a pair of well-struck shots.

"We caught the keeper a little high and if you can find the holes, you can score and we did tonight," he said. "We can't make a living on special goals like that, but we'll take them tonight."

School of the Osage is now 2-5 on the season.

Jefferson City (4-3) is back in action when it hosts the Richard Wilson Classic that starts Thursday at the 179 Soccer Park. The Jays will start play against Battle at 6 p.m. Thursday. The event will run through Saturday.

In Tuesday's JV game, Jefferson City blanked School of the Osage 3-0.

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