• Jags claim first district title since '07

  • Once again, the Blue Springs South girls soccer team’s sturdy defense got the job done.

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  • Once again, the Blue Springs South girls soccer team’s sturdy defense got the job done.
    For the 11th time in 18 matches, the Jaguars posted a shutout, blanking Columbia Hickman 1-0 Thursday night in the Class 3 District 9 championship at Sedalia Middle School for the program’s first title since 2007.
    South’s turnaround since last season’s 6-16 performance has been remarkable, although Jaguar coach Todd Findley pointed out that the squad showed signs of nearing a breakthrough last season. Despite going 0-10 in conference play, the Jags dropped four or five one-goal contests in 2012, Findley said.
    This year’s team, time after time, has produced timely goals – such as junior Sarah Smedley’s score in the 24th minute against the Kewpies.
    Freshman Sarah Freiermuth started the attack by beating her defender down the endline and slotted a pass across the middle near the penalty spot. Smedley, playing an attacking midfield, gathered the pass and laced a shot to the top shelf of the goal.
    “Last year, on the other side of the ball we could never get opportunistic goals,” Findley said. “This year, we’re a year older, a little more developed and a little more athletic in our attack. Even when we lost (leading scorer) Emily Griffin for three weeks with an MCL injury, we still always found that girl here or there that could score.”
    Not that the Jags (12-5-1) needed an abundance of goals. Findley credited freshmen Kayla Ellis and Peri Rainey for helping bolster the South defense, which has aided goalkeeper Kylie Young in notching a program-record 11 shutouts.
    “Those two freshmen are just mature beyond their years,” Findley said. “And they’re so tenacious and such hard workers. They’re really fun to watch.”
    The Jags allowed only two shots on goal, but Hickman (12-8-1) kept the pressure on throughout the second half, venturing into South territory several times.
    “Hickman really came strong in the second half and had the wind,” Findley said. “We didn’t want to play as much defense as we did and we gave up a few breakaways, but it just boiled down to us playing as we’ve done all year and shutting people down and not giving up goals.”
    South will host Jefferson City on Tuesday in the Class 3 sectional at Larry Stewart Memorial Stadium. The time has not yet been determined. Jefferson City rallied from a two-goal deficit to top Camdenton 3-2 in overtime on in the District 10 final Thursday.

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