COLUMBIA — The Rock Bridge boys soccer team was fresh, positive and prepared before its game Tuesday against Smith-Cotton.
By the end of the game, Rock Bridge was drained, drenched and moving on in the postseason.
Rock Bridge fended off Smith-Cotton with a 4-2 win in a Class 3, District 9 semifinal game on a chilly, rainy evening at Hickman High School.
The win advances Rock Bridge to Thursday's district final. The team is scheduled to play at 6 p.m. against the winner of Hickman and Blue Springs South at Hickman High School.
But Rock Bridge coach Alex Nichols wasn't ecstatic over Tuesday's win.
"It (the weather) definitely changes the game," he said. "I don't blame the weather for it (our mistakes). A few mistakes cost us a couple goals."
The Bruins started the game with an early goal by sophomore forward Tarnue Tyler and two more from senior midfielder Austin McDonald in the first half.
Despite the 3-0 lead, Nichols stayed stern at halftime.
"Don't get comfortable," Nichols said of his halftime approach. "Keep working your butt off to get better. Sedalia (Smith-Cotton) is a good team. Their coaches certainly aren't the type of guys who are gonna let up."
In the second half, the rain came down harder, and so did Smith-Cotton. Two minutes into the second half, Smith-Cotton freshman Jordan Lawson put the ball into the back of the net after it slipped out of Rock Bridge goalkeeper Greg Kelly's hands. Rock Bridge's lead was 3-1.
The Bruins scored a few minutes later, but shortly after, Lawson scored his second goal of the night for Smith-Cotton. Once again, the Bruins' lead was cut to two.
What followed Lawson's goal was about 30 minutes of back-and-forth change of possession and 30 minutes of missed opportunities for both teams.
"It should have never got that close," Nichols said. "Sedalia (Smith-Cotton) put themselves in a position to score, and they scored. So hats off to them for both of their goals."
Nichols believes limiting the amount of errors for Thursday's game is important for the team to keep winning.
"If it's a 1-0 game and now it's tied, the mental mistake is the goal that costs you," he said. "If our defenders can't clean it up, we're gonna fall because of it.
"They are a great bunch. We've just got to clean up the mistakes, and we're gonna go as far as we can."
Supervising editor is Erik Hall.