Scoring a pair of first-half goals and then turning things over to their staunch defense isn’t a bad plan of attack this season for the Columbia Eagles.
Sophomore midfielder Riley Hubler and senior forward Connor Jackson scored goals in the first 40 minutes and junior Jon Kuebler posted another shutout in the net Tuesday as the Eagles downed Farmington 2-0 in the 62nd annual CYC Tournament.
Columbia (10-0-1) won its second straight game in Pool A of the tournament’s Msgr. Larry Walsh Division. The Eagles need a win or a tie against visiting Clayton at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday to advance to the semifinals Friday at WWT Soccer Park in Fenton, Mo.
“Would we have liked to see one or two more (goals)? Absolutely. Without a doubt,” Columbia coach Jason Mathenia said. “But getting a shutout tonight and getting back on that roll after allowing a very unfortunate one (Monday) night (is good).”
The Eagles’ only blemish this season is a scoreless tie against much-improved Highland. The only goal Columbia has allowed came in a 6-1 victory over Trinity on Monday. The goal was a penalty kick that Kuebler got his hands on but was unable to prevent.
Kuebler enjoys playing behind the likes of seniors David Hawickhorst, Cole Bivens, Connor Pelt and Alec Tharp, and sophomore Charlie Harres.
“I trust each and every one of them,” Kuebler said. “They’ve got my back, I’ve got their back. That’s how we do it. If we put them in the back of the net and let the defense do its work and not get scored on, we can’t lose.
“This defense is pretty good. It may not be the best in Columbia history, but it’s definitely pushing it. By the end of the year, it might be the best.”
Columbia won the CYC Tournament last year and would consider it a yeomanlike accomplishment to repeat considering it graduated 14 seniors and returned just two starters in Kuebler and senior Sam Spivey.
“We’re not thinking we’re going to win this thing again,” Mathenia said. “We take every game one game at a time. If it falls that way, then absolutely. We want to win it. But we have to focus on winning one game at a time. If we look too far ahead, we get ourselves in trouble.”
Farmington (4-7) applied occasional pressure on Columbia during the second half, but was kept out of the goal. Mathenia was pleased with the work the Eagles defense turned in against Knights sophomore Bryce Sancegraw, who has 13 goals.
Hubler put the Eagles ahead early in the game off a restart. Hawickhorst, battling the flu, was credited with the assist. Hubler leads Columbia with 12 goals.
Jackson made it 2-0 just before halftime, punching one past Knights sophomore keeper Chad Silvey on a feed from junior Tyler Hoguet.
“(Jackson) might have been the only sophomore to get varsity experience on the state-championship team (in 2014),” Mathenia said. “Last year, he got some time, but we had 14 seniors and it was tough for anyone (besides them) to get time. He’s starting to do a lot of good things for us. As long as we can keep him on track, he’ll definitely be one of our tools.”
Clayton brings a 4-5 record into its matchup against Columbia on Wednesday. Senior Bryant Thompson leads the Greyhounds with six goals.
“It’s always good to play against Missouri teams,” Kuebler said. “It’s a new challenge, a different team, different style.”