SEDALIA — Rock Bridge coach Marc Vandover said between the Bruins’ prom and freshman dance it was difficult to get the effort he wanted in practice this last week.
“I had two girls come up to me and say, “Coach, I’m here and I can’t sweat,’” Vandover said.
Monday’s Class 2 District 10 semifinal game made up for last week’s lack of sweat. Rock Bridge beat Jefferson City 1-0 on sophomore Rachel Mends’ goal in the 74th minute to advance to the final against Hickman on Wednesday in Sedalia.
“We’re going to get them this time,” Mends said.
Mends said this was the biggest goal she scored.
“It was really exciting,” Mends said.
Vandover said the Bruins (15-7-1) are happy to get another shot at the Kewpies, who beat them 1-0 on May 5.
“Hickman’s one of the top team’s in the state,” Vandover said. “Who wouldn’t be excited for that?”
Vandover said Monday’s close game will help his team prepare for Hickman.
“We needed this,” Vandover said. “This is huge for us.”
Three Jefferson City players were around the ball about 25 yards away from the Jays’ goal when Mends stole it and drove toward the top left corner of the box and fired a shot over the head of goalie Jessie Sanderson.
“I was open, so I was like, ‘Might as well go for it,’” Mends said.
Vandover said he thought the shot looked too high.
“It was in the air an awful long time,” Vandover said. “I thought it was going to bring rain there for a while.”
Vandover said seeing a sophomore make such a big play didn’t surprise him.
“At this point in the year, you don’t have stars,” Vandover said. “Everybody had to step up to another level if we are going to move on.”
Jefferson City (13-6-3) had its best chance to tie when it got a goal kick in front of the Bruins’ box. Jays’ midfielder Carly Wilson’s shot went wide left.
Vandover said he was glad the game did not go into overtime.
“We do not have a good track record in overtime,” Vandover said.
Jefferson City controlled the ball in the second half before Mends’ goal. Between the 50th and the 72nd minute, the Jays got off six shots.
Rock Bridge defender Anna Gross said this was similar to the Bruins’ second half against Hickman.
“We’re used to playing a lot of defense,” Gross said.
In the 58th minute, Jefferson City forward Jessica Morgan fired a shot from the right side of the box and Bruin goalie Emily Roark had to make a diving save to keep the game scoreless. Roark had four saves in the second half.
Vandover said he wasn’t worried.
“I felt confident from the opening,” Vandover said.
Mends’ goal was Rock Bridge’s second shot in the half.
The Bruins had chances to score in the first half, including a shot by Karissa Nedoma in the seventh minute that hit the cross bar. In the 21st minute, Nedoma’s shot deflected off Sanderson and Bruin forward Kikki Kruse got the rebound, but Sanderson also saved her shot.
Vandover said he was surprised his team did not convert any of these opportunities.
“I thought we’d have a couple scores in the first half,” Vandover said.