The Jefferson City Lady Jays accomplished a lot of good things in the soccer regular season.
• They quadrupled their win total from last season, winning 12 times after posting just three victories last spring.
• They’ve insured they will finish the season with a winning record for the first time since 2019.
“I’m proud of the improvements of the team,” Jefferson City coach Scott Blake said after the Lady Jays wrapped up the regular season Wednesday night with a 5-0 victory against the Fatima Lady Comets at Jefferson City High School.
“It shows in the record, but it also shows even when we don’t get results in how far we’ve come.”
The first impression a lot of people form about a team is looking at its record. But Blake said the record isn’t necessarily the final grade for a season.
“We know people look at the numbers, so they are important,” he said. “But as a coach, you are always looking at the X’s and O’s, are we playing the right way and trying to get better.”
Jefferson City played well in the X’s and O’s against Fatima, scoring all five goals in the first half.
Two of those goals came in the first 10 minutes. Emily McMillian got the Lady Jays on the board on a breakaway a little less than four minutes into the contest. Then with 31:05 remaining in the half, McMillian was taken down in the box, resulting in a penalty kick.
Grace Spalding converted on the attempt to make it 2-0.
Jefferson City tallied its final three goals in the last 10 minutes of the half.
With about eight minutes remaining, a shot by Kyra Madondo trickled past the goal line to make it 3-0. McMillian tallied her second goal of the half with 1:30 remaining, driving down the right side before knocking it into the left side of the goal for a score.
Izzy Schmidt scored Jefferson City’s final goal with :43 remaining in the half.
The Lady Jays ended the half with a 13-1 edge in total shots, including a 10-1 advantage in those on goal.
With the big lead, the second half provided an opportunity for Jefferson City’s reserves to see extended playing time in the final home game of the season.
“It was a good night to give some players the chance to make some memories,” Blake said. “Plus it was a chance for some of our more inexperienced players to get some time on the varsity level.”
Riley McKee was in goal in the first half for Jefferson City, with Mariah McKinney taking over in the final 40 minutes. The two combined for the seventh shutout of the season for the Lady Jays.
“The program loves shutouts, but it’s more important that we play well, we’re not going to worry about a hiccup or two,” Blake said. “We’d rather get some kids some experience than keeping the starters in just to get the shutout.”
It also was the final game of the regular season for the Lady Comets (11-9). Fatima is the host school and the second seed in the four-team Class 1 District 5 Tournament, opening against third-seeded Smithton at 7 p.m. Monday. The Fatima-Smithton winner will face either top-seeded Father Tolton or fourth-seeded Sedalia Sacred Heart in the title match next Wednesday.
The Lady Jays have accomplished a lot this season. But Blake says there’s one thing still missing.
“We’re still lacking that signature win,” Blake said. “We have some solid wins, but not one that I would call a signature win.”
That opportunity comes Saturday when the Lady Jays open the Class 3 District 5 Tournament in Rolla.
“A playoff win would be huge,” Blake said. “It’s been a few years (2019) since we’ve won in the playoffs.”
Jefferson City (12-9-1) is the No. 5 seed and will open against fourth-seeded Washington (8-13) at noon in the second of four first-round games Saturday.
“The seeding turned out what it need to be,” Blake said. “We’re in the game we deserve to be in.”
The Jefferson City-Washington winner will face either top-seeded Capital City or eighth-seeded Warrensburg in the district semifinals at 5 p.m. Monday. The district title game is set for next Wednesday.
In a JV game after the varsity contest Wednesday night, Jefferson City defeated Moberly 2-0.