The Rolla soccer team (7-2) made the trip to St. Louis for the Parkway Tournament on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 15-16. After dropping from sixth to ninth in the state rankings, the Bulldogs won all three of their games in the tournament to win the event for the second time ever and the second time in the last four seasons.
Rolla started the tournament against Parkway South at Parkway South. This was a grind it out game for both teams and South struck first with a goal in the 28th minute. After that, Jayson Ross took over. The senior forward found the back of the net seven minutes into the second half off an assist by Mohamad Alamaldiem to tie the match. Things were quiet for the next 17 minutes, but Ross was able to score again, this time on an assist by Jarret Gabriele in the 64th minute. The Rolla defense continued to hold strong and they held off the Patriots for a 2-1 win.
Rolla then headed to Parkway West for the final two games of the tournament on Saturday. The Bulldogs started things off with Parkway North and got off to a bit of a slow start. Parkway North struck first with a goal in the ninth minute, but Rolla responded with a goal by Gabriele off an assist by Carson Arnold with just a minute to go in the opening half to tie the game at one.
After the half, it was all Rolla. Jarret Gabriel scored two more goals in the 44th and 46th minutes to complete his second hat trick of the season. The first goal came on an assist by Evan Moore, while the second was off a pass from Gabe Stanislawski. Moore then added a goal of his own in the 50th minute on another assist by Stanislawski. Six minutes later, Stanislawski then converted on a goal of his own on a penalty kick to push the lead to 5-1. Rolla still wasn't done, however, as Joel Schott scored in the 62nd minute off an assist by Michael Deblasi and Cody Mullen scored off an assist from Josiah Homan in the 67th minute to put the final nail in Parkway North's coffin in a 7-1 win.
Rolla wrapped up the tournament against Parkway West on their home field and got out to a quick start against the Mustangs. Stanislawski scored his second goal of the tournament off an assist from Adeeb Massri just seven minutes into the game. The followed that up with Ross' third goal of the weekend off an assist by Gabriele in the 28th minute. That gave them a 2-0 lead at the half. Ross then added his second goal of the game, fourth of the weekend, four minutes into the second half to push the lead to 3-0. West scored a goal in the 74th minute to keep things interesting, but Alamaldein slammed the door shut with a goal in the final minute off an assist from Stanislawski to finish off a 4-1 win.
Head coach Mike Howard was glad to see that despite trailing in two of their three games, the Bulldogs found ways to win.
"I like the fact that in the first game on Friday against Parkway South we were down 1-0 at halftime and we scored two goals to win the game. Then against Parkway North we were down a goal as well and scored a goal very late in the first half, then we were able to score a bunch in the second," said Howard. "I'm real happy with the fact that we got behind and we were able to come back for wins. That was something we struggled with last year for sure...when you get behind in St. Louis, it's difficult to come back and get a good result. It's a big weekend for us."
Rolla also showed more depth than they had previously this season. They brought some JV players with them and that helped them outlast a tired Parkway West team on Saturday.
"Everybody that played did a good job and we used everybody," said coach Howard. "We brought a couple of kids up from JV and it ended up being huge for us because by the time we got to the Parkway West game, they only had 14 players and we rotating 21. A big weekend for our bench as well."
The tournament win gives Rolla a huge boost in confidence, which should help them tremendously when they host Glendale, who's ranked third in the state in Class 3, on Monday, Sept. 18. This game will be crucial in determining the Ozark Championship at the end of the season.
"We gained confidence as the weekend went on," said the Rolla head coach. "I'd be lying if I said I wasn't shocked. It's one of those things where you're 4-2 when the weekend starts and when you're looking at things, you're not sure how you're gonna come out of it even if you play well. You're not guaranteed to win any games there. We didn't win any games last year in that tournament. It was a really good weekend for us."