Soccer team advances to district title game

LCR photo/Alex Boyer
Lebanon junior Evan Rogers (above) dribbles the ball downfield during a high school soccer match earlier this season. LHS defeated West Plains on Monday, 1-0 at ‘Jacket Soccer Field.

By: 
ALEX BOYER ALEX@LACLEDERECORD.COM

In wet and nasty field conditions, the Lebanon soccer team won their first district game in over 12 years, beating the West Plains Zizzers in the semifinal game of the Missouri Class 3 District 10 tournament on Monday night at ‘Jacket Soccer Field, 1-0.

The district win is the first time the ‘Jackets have made it past the first round during head coach Matt Jernigan’s tenure as coach.

“This is a big step for the program,” Jernigan mentioned after the game. “These guys deserve it because they work their tails off.

“It was miserable conditions and a miserable night for soccer, but a great outcome.”

The first half of the game was a feel-out for LHS, who had already beat West Plains twice this season, but in the second half with five minutes remaining in the contest, junior Zach Richards got behind the Zizzers’ defense and rocketed a goal into the back of the net.

Richards was battling through an injury for a majority of the second half after taking a knee to the chest, but Jernigan initially thought it was broken ribs for the standout player.

“He took it hard,” Jernigan said about the injury. “We told him when he got to the bench that it was his decision when he came back in, and he battled through the pain and was able to put the game-winner in five minutes after coming back in.

“That is the type of kid he is.”

Although the goal ultimately won Lebanon the game, the biggest play of the match might have been with 12 minutes remaining when West Plains had a great opportunity to score with just the goalie to beat.

Still, senior Zach Jamieson made an incredible save to keep the score tied.

“We said at the beginning of the game that we would have to have at least one good save,” Jernigan said. “ZJ knew he was going to have his moment, and he stepped up and got it.

“We had our ninth shutout of the season which speaks volume to not only our four defenders, but Ryder Rhodes, Angel Vasquez, and Luis Pedroza have been a key for us in the midfield. Evan Rogers, Cameron Fisher, Austin Barber, and Ethan Murray are a great combination back in the defense. They might not be the most-skilled defenders we have, but they are the best unit we have ever had back there.”

With the win, Lebanon will advance to the district championship game to face Glendale on Thursday night, beginning at 6 p.m. at ‘Jacket Soccer Field by Boswell Elementary.

Earlier this year, Glendale defeated Lebanon 5-0, but Jernigan is optimistic his squad can pull the upset against the No. 1 seed.

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The Laclede County Record

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