The Rolla soccer team (19-4, 7-1 OC) hosted Joplin for an Ozark Conference matchup on Tuesday, Oct. 17. Rolla keeper Drew Blair made history in the game, securing a solo hold of the school record for shutouts in a career.
To say Rolla's matchup with Joplin was physical would be an understatement. Physicality and some iffy officiating led to a total of 12 cards handed out over the course of the game. Joplin racked up a staggering 11 yellow cards, some of which led to players stacking a pair of yellow cards into reds. Joplin had three red cards come from the collection of yellows. Rolla's Tanner Mertens also earned a yellow card in the game.
The Bulldogs managed to grind their way through the game, but couldn't break through for a goal for the first 78 minutes. Rolla finally got a break when Jayson Ross was taken down by the Joplin keeper in the box. That set Jarret Gabriele for a penalty kick and the junior forward buried it to give the Bulldogs a 1-0 lead that they would hold onto until the end of the game.
Drew Blair did have some work to do to earn that shutout record, making a few big saves to give Rolla a chance to win. The shutout was the 36th of his career, which is now one more than Ryan Farrar's previous record.
"Drew made a great save with fifteen minutes left to keep the game level, that game could have gone either way very easily," said Rolla head coach Mike Howard. "Congrats to him on setting the record as well."
Coach Howard was proud of the way his team managed to stay calm during a wild contest on their way to a 1-0 win.
"Our players kept their composure throughout the match and that is probably why we won," said the Rolla head coach. "Give Joplin credit for a hard fought game, things got pretty emotional out there but our boys just kept playing trying to get that first goal and were rewarded for that at the end of the day."
The JV won their game 2-1 to advance their record to 4-3-2. Joel Schott scored both goals, while Carlos Guzman recorded an assist..
Rolla played one final regular season game on Wednesday, Oct. 18 at Camdenton, but results were not available at press time. Rolla will open Districts at Camdenton against Marshfield on Monday, Oct. 23.