Clean and complete sweep.
Northeast Jones soccer picked up wins Tuesday night at Jones College over county rival Laurel in Ellisville. Neither Northeast Jones teams allowed an opposing goal in the girls' and boys' matches.
Here is how the night played out:
Lady Tigers 2, Lady Tornadoes 0.
Two seventh-graders were the difference in the second half for a young NEJ team.
After a nil first half, seventh-grader Brooklyn Henley spotted the Lady Tigers a 1-0 lead in the 42nd minute on a right-to-left shot just inside the box.
“Henley was a workhorse for us up top,” said Lady Tigers head coach Brooke Zugg. “She got defeated in the first half, unable to get anything going in the first much like our whole team. But she responded in a way that was beautiful to watch.”
Under the final 10-minute mark, teammate and fellow seventh-grade Graison Holder scored her first-ever varsity goal to seal the Lady Tigers’ second victory of the season.
"Graison didn't get much playing time, if any in the first half," said Zugg. "But as a seventh-grader, she came in the second half and commanded the center of the field with the help of [Isabella] Harrison and Amber Johnson. With those three, feeding Brooklyn up top, we controlled the field. Overall, I was pleased with our second half."
With a full roster of only one senior and one junior, Zugg said the younger players have to continue stepping up - much like on Tuesday night.
"They already are stepping up in a way that I hoped and prayed they would," said the second-year head coach. "They're showing me how they can. This was their first night game under the lights, so there were some nerves there to take into account. But at halftime, I think they realized how I expected more from them - and they delivered."
Northeast Jones girls improve to 2-0-1 in the first week of the MHSAA soccer season. Laurel falls to 1-2.
Tigers 3, Tornadoes 0.
The first 20 minutes looked as if the night consist of goal-after-goal-after-goal for Northeast Jones. But after a fast start to the night, the Tiger goals became more scarce.
A goal from inside the box by junior Alex Gonzalez and a PK conversion by senior Carlos Hernandez gave NEJ an early 2-0 lead.
“It was a big momentum moment to get those two goals early,” said Tigers head coach Matt Reid. “The first one was big, but even the second goal, a PK by Hernandez, gave our guys some confidence. Maybe too confident, because I think that hurt us in the second half.”
Afterward, only one other well-placed shot - by Jason Garica on an assist from Gonzalez - found its way to the back of the net on the night.
“I thought we could have played better in the second half,” added Reid. “We got a little lazy and too comfortable with our three-goal lead. But overall, I’m proud of the way our guys played.
"Every year we play Laurel [at the beginning of the season], and it's a hard-fought game. These kids know each other, and they play soccer with each other in town."
No goals in the second half, after a three-goal first-half, wasn't too concerning, said Reid.
“I think we just put our foot on the brakes too early,” Reid added, “and got out of rhythm with what we were trying to do.”
Northeast Jones improves to 3-0 on the season. Laurel falls to 1-1-1.