Rock Bridge did all it could to earn the top seed in its district tournament with a 2-0 victory against Helias on Tuesday at Cosmopolitan Park.
Now a committee of the district’s other teams has to decide if it was sufficient. “I hope it’s enough for a top seed,” Graham said. “We’re undefeated in district. That should put us in good position, but that’s up to the other teams, really. We don’t get to vote for ourselves. But we’ve taken care of our part of it.”
The Bruins (15-1-2) beat district teams Hickman and Helias and tied Jefferson City. Each of those teams has a lost a game to a district opponent.
Helias (12-2) has yet to play either Hickman or Jefferson City.
“This leaves us at best second,” Helias coach Chuck Register said. “But we’re not too far behind. I think we played a pretty good game tonight.”
Matt Spainhour scored the game-winning goal in the 20th minute for the Bruins.
“(Tim) Humlicek sent it over the last line (of defense),” Spainhour said. “He hit a nice through ball. I had a breakaway and just swatted it into the right corner.”
“Matt Spainhour is a great player,” coach David Graham said. “We’ve expected that from him all year. It was a great finish.”
Helias tested goalkeeper Adam Andrews in the second half, but Andrews came up with diving saves in the 41st and 65th minutes. Andrews and Tanner Mills each played a half to combine for the shutout.
“I’m probably to blame for us coming out flat in the second half,” Graham said. “We tried to get the seniors in and play them as much as possible. But I was at fault for any discontinuity.”
Rock Bridge turned away two Crusader scoring chances in the first 10 minutes of the second half. Spainhour and Adam Reed each cleared a loose ball that had gotten past Andrews, who was out of the goal mouth, as Helias looked for the equalizer.
Rock Bridge added another goal in the 50th minute when Paul Mattli sent a corner kick high into the Helias box that David Bucko headed in.
“I was trying all night to get something in,” Bucko said. “It finally worked. It was a nice ball. I just did what I had to do and hit it with my head.”
The win was an important step for Rock Bridge’s 16 seniors on the way to claiming a district title in their last opportunity.
“There was a lot of emotion for senior night,” Graham said. “It’s hard to focus on the game when you’re aware of the fact that as a senior you’re coming down to the end of the year. But we need to continue to elevate our level of play. We need to work hard every single day.”