Gauntlet of tough tests awaits Blue Devils after finishing shutout of Crimsons
QUINCY — Ten games without a loss is a quality stretch, one of the best to open a season in the history of the Quincy High School girls soccer program.
Yet, the Blue Devils know what comes next will better define their postseason potential.
“This week is our week to prove ourselves,” junior midfielder Rian Moore said.
Following Saturday’s 5-0 victory over Jacksonville at Flinn Stadium — the fourth straight game the Blue Devils have scored five or more goals — a series of stern tests await, beginning Monday at home against perennial power Columbia (Mo.) Rock Bridge.
Road games against Geneseo (10-1) and Chatham Glenwood (7-3-1) complete the week.
“These are the games we’ve been waiting for, and I feel we’re ready,” junior forward Taylor Routh said. “We have to go out there and work hard as a team most importantly.”
Had it not been for a midweek challenge at Springfield last Thursday, Quincy coach Travis Dinkheller might be a little more concerned about his team’s preparation for the upcoming gauntlet.
But navigating a road trip, playing on a grass field and having to react to giving up a one-goal lead left him confident the Blue Devils (8-0-2) can handle adversity.
“We had to work through it and sort some things out,” Dinkheller said. “I told the girls the first game of the season there were going to be bumps in the road, and honestly, we needed that bump. We needed to have to sort through some things. That builds character.”
So does reacting the right way.
On the heels of the 5-3 victory over the Senators, the Blue Devils took control of Saturday’s game from the outset. Routh took a pass from midfielder Sydney Welsh, drove hard at the goal and buried a left-footed shot for a 1-0 lead less than 90 seconds into the game.
“We always get more confidence when we score early, that’s why it’s so important,” Routh said. “I feel like it helped the team come together and work hard to get that next goal.”
Routh scored her second goal, this one off a Grace Schackleton assist, in the 23rd minute.
Quincy scored three second-half goals to put the game away. Bri Lannerd scored twice — in the 44th minute off a Welsh assist and in the 51st minute off a Moore corner kick. Avery Morrison scored the final goal in the 68th minute.
“I like the energy we bring everyday,” Moore said. “Everyone has the same mindset. We go into a game ready to play. We’re getting into booming tackles. We’re making runs. We’re controlling the pace. That’s how we need to play.”
It’s how the Blue Devils have to play against tougher competition.
“We play better under pressure,” Moore said. “Like against Springfield, they came back and tied it and we answered with four more goals. In games like that, we are much cleaner and we just have to stick together.”
No one doubts their bond.
“You can trust each other and you know you can go out there and we’re all going to work hard,” Routh said.
It’s led to the second best start in program history — the 1995 team began the season 11-0-1 — with the opportunity to send a statement to regional foes this week.
“Building momentum into those games is huge for us,” Dinkheller said. “We’ve done that.”
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