The past few years, if there is one thing Blue Springs South boys soccer coach Jon Grice said has been a weakness for his team, it’s scoring goals.
Coming into Wednesday’s game against Suburban Big Seven Conference rival Blue Springs, South averaged just 1.23 goals per game. It’s been a struggle, especially with some of its starters (Brett Vaughn, Bryce Millican, Dylan Shuker and Tommy Johnson) having to sit a few games due to nagging injuries.
On Wednesday, everyone was healthy. And it made a difference as the Jaguars scored three goals in the first half to roll to a 3-0 victory over the host Wildcats at Peve Stadium.
“When you score that early, it helps a lot,” Grice said. “We’re back to good health, which helps a little bit. It’s good to get this win with districts in a couple of weeks and get some confidence under our belt. It’s good to have those guys back after they have had to miss games here and there.
“The first game we scored three runs against Oak Park and we felt like we were on the right track. Then we had a bunch of injuries and had to battle a bunch of tough teams and we got a lot of close wins and close losses. We’ve had to battle through it.”
This was a much different result from the first time these two teams met two weeks ago, a game in which the Wildcats were nearly equal with the Jags in time of possession during a 1-0 loss.
This time, South had a much more sizeable advantage in time of possession as it held a 19-7 advantage in shots (10-3 on goal).
“We just came out with a lot of fire and really wanted to win this one badly,” junior midfielder Zian Trober said.
Millican is one of those who has recently become healthy for the Jaguars. He was able to give his team a three-goal cushion when he had his initial shot blocked by goalkeeper Jacob Williams, but he was able to beat two Blue Springs defenders to the loose ball and he put in his rebound in the 34th minute.
“In these conditions, the goalkeepers don’t catch everything; you have to follow,” Grice said. We preach and preach that, and it finally came to fruition.”
While South (6-11, 3-5 Big Seven) had to deal with the nagging injuries throughout the year, Trober has been a key piece in keeping the Jaguar offense afloat. He is South’s leading goal scorer and added to his total early.
He chased down a long throw-in from Vaughn and was able to boot one in diagonally from the right side of the goal mouth inside the left post for an early 1-0 edge.
“It was a great ball by Brett,” Trober said. “He always comes through with the great serves. You just have to get on the end of them and put them in.”
In the 20th minute, Joel Sterling accounted for the team’s second goal when he received a give-and-go pass from John Hurley and fit a shot between Blue Springs defender Alex Maliwat and Williams that hit the back of the net.
“That was a great pass by John Hurley,” Sterling said.
The goals by Trober and Sterling were due to defensive miscues by the Wildcats (0-15, 0-7), according to assistant coach Brett Lewis, who said he felt like his team was able to hang with South.
“Things did not go our way in the first half,” Lewis said. “The very first goal we gave up it bounced over our center back’s head. Just silly mistakes like that. We stayed with them for the most part possession-wise. We just let in two goals that were silly mistakes.”
Jaguars goalkeeper Keavin Hart recorded the shutout as he often went unchallenged by Blue Springs. However, he did making one diving save off a shot from Michael Schnoor in the second half.
“I don’t worry too much about how our defense comes out,” Grice said. “We play well together and defend together. The back five plus Keavin have a thankless job. They get no thanks and only get criticized when they get score on. They came up huge tonight.”