Boys’ soccer wins first round of district tournament


Junior Nate Durdle looks for a pass during the Aug. 22 regular season game against HHS that resulted in a 1-0 victory in penalty kicks. The Bruins will return to HHS on Wednesday to face Smith Cotton in the district championship. Photo by Yousuf El-Jayyousi

Allie Pigg

The RBHS boys’ soccer team beat the Jefferson City High School Jays (JCHS) in the first round of the district tournament at Hickman High School (HHS) on Monday night, Oct. 23 with a close score of 1-0. The Jays (12-11) beat the Bruins (10-11-1) 2-0 two weeks ago in regular season play, and the Bruins were hungry for a revenge victory that carries them into the district championship game.
The first 78 minutes of the game involved equal possession and scoring opportunities. The action started early in the game with senior captain midfielder Nick Cary barely losing a 50/50 with the Jays’ goalkeeper in the 7th minute.
From there, the Bruins and Jays competed on an equal level, both putting several shots just over the net. Head coach Scott Wittenborn said the boys seemed defeated at halftime with a tied score. He assured the team they were where they needed to be, and told them to bring more energy and strategy to the second half, specifically by taking the ball wider. This advice ultimately led to a game winning play.
With two minutes left in the still scoreless game, the Bruins came out on top by a cross from junior midfielder Jack Flink to junior forward Jayton Johnson, a right footed striker who scored the game winner with his left foot.
“We’ve been yelling at [Johnson] all season to shoot with his left foot,” Wittenborn said. “He finally did tonight, and it paid off.”
Johnson said watching his shot hit the back of the net felt terrific because it changed the excitement of the game in the last two minutes.
“We were getting down on ourselves, and [the goal] picked the momentum up and we turned into a neat team,” Johnson said.
Junior goalkeeper Carson Linder played an electric match, beginning in the first half with a big save in the 31st minute and another in the 39th minute.
“Making those saves definitely built up my momentum and confidence on the ball,” Linder said.
He carried his energy with him into the second half, blocking a bullet of a shot in the 48th minute from 35 yards out and kept the shutout for the Bruins. Linder said it was the mistakes made in his last meeting with the JCHS team that pushed him to make the extra effort to not let the ball into the net.
Linder and the rest of his team left HHS with their desired result tonight, but will return on Wednesday to face the Smith Cotton Tigers in the district championship at 6:00. The Tigers eliminated Hickman out of the playoffs with a score of 6-2 prior to the Bruin-Jays match.
With Smith Cotton’s regular season record of 23 wins and one loss, Wittenborn speculates the championship game will not be any easier than the semi finals game.
“[Smith Cotton] is big, strong, fast and incredibly skilled. They’re one of the top three teams we’ve played all season,” Wittenborn said. “They’re going to play incredibly physical and will be running at us all game, but I think we’re up for it.”
How do you think the RBHS boys soccer team will do in the district championship game against Smith Cotton? Let us know in the comments below.