Bulldogs soccer lost a close match Thursday to former NCMC foe Helias, 2-1.
"This game had to be the most physical game we have played," head coach Grant Johnston said. "We really focused on physicality during this week's practice; the benefits showed today. Although we were not able to get the result we wanted, we felt as though we were stepping in the right direction."
The game remained scoreless through the first half, before the Crusaders jumped to a 1-0 lead in the second. Mexico senior Christian McKeown responded shortly, tying the game on a free kick from striking range.
"Christian scored what might be the best free-kick I've ever seen a high school student-athlete score," Johnston said. "This was incredibly encouraging considering we have tried different set plays in practice to increase our production from free-kicks. We felt as though we might need a gimmick to score rather than one swift boot from a player. Christian silenced those conversations with a perfectly struck goal."
The Crusaders would score again in the 65th minute, to take the lead and secure the victory.
"We are still making costly mistakes on defense, which is resulting in goals scored against us," Johnston said. "We possessed the ball much better today, as that has also been a focus in practice. Unfortunately, we are not getting the quality looks on net we need. This is still a work in progress. We have a streak of conference games approaching, and we need to get in our top form to find success."
The Bulldogs fall to 8-7 with the loss.
In junior varsity action, the Crusaders beat the Bulldogs 3-0.
Mexico soccer returns to the field Tuesday when host NCMC rival Kirksville.