The Jackson girls soccer team thrives on defense -- and that was never more evident than Saturday afternoon, when the Indians won the championship in the I-55 Tournament hosted by Central.
The Indians did not allow a goal in the two-day event and capped their defensive domination in their third and final game by holding off St. Louis County powerhouse Parkway West 1-0.
Jackson finished the eight-team tournament, in which four Southeast Missouri squads each played three games against four teams from the St. Louis area, as the only 3-0 squad.
Lafayette, another St. Louis power and 1-0 winner against Jackson in last year's Class 2 state quarterfinals, placed second at 2-0-1. The Lancers and Notre Dame battled to a 1-1 tie early Saturday, which opened the door for the Jackson-Parkway West winner to capture the title after they each had won their first two games.
The Indians, who improved to 18-3-1, took advantage. Junior Molly Hartmann scored the game's only goal, off an assist from her sophomore sister Lucy, midway through the first half.
"It's great to win this tournament because there was some excellent competition," Jackson coach Zack Walton said. "Parkway West is a real good team. They've been ranked in the top 10 in St. Louis."
Parkway West (16-3-1), which wound up third in the tournament, used a strong wind advantage to control play in the second half, but the Longhorns got off very few good shots on goal against keeper Kylie Werner, who nabbed her third shutout of the tournament.
"I thought our girls played really good defensively. We've played well defensively all year," Walton said. "We got that goal in the first half, then they controlled the ball in the second half but they never really got any good shots. That was our plan."
Said Jackson sophomore Shay Priester: "We owe it all to our defense. They really stepped it up. This win will give us a lot of confidence if we win districts again and have to play a St. Louis team."
Earlier Saturday, Jackson beat Northwest 1-0 as Molly Hartmann scored, with an assist from Hannah Kohm. Hartmann had two goals during Friday's 5-0 romp past Bishop DuBourg.
Notre Dame (14-4-2) had a strong showing against a Lafayette squad that handed Parkway West one of its three losses this season. Amanda Dirnberger scored a late goal off an assist from Lauren Mehner to salvage the draw against the Lancers (14-4-1).
But the Bulldogs later suffered a surprising 1-0 loss to Bishop DuBourg and placed fourth at 1-1-1. Friday, Notre Dame beat Northwest 2-0.
"We had a real good game against Lafayette, but I think we just ran out of gas against DuBourg," Notre Dame coach Jeff Worley said.
Host Central, after being blanked by the St. Louis powers in its first two games, bounced back to salvage a victory in the tournament with a 7-0 drubbing of Northwest.
Heidi Pilsner and Megan McDonald both scored two goals while Lauren Thompson, Julie Underwood and Monica Toole all added one. Lee Thomas had two assists and Chelsea Burns recorded the shutout.
The Tigers (10-11) fell to Parkway West 4-0 earlier Saturday after losing to Lafayette 3-0 on Friday. Central wound up the tournament sixth.
Also Saturday, Lafayette routed Poplar Bluff 7-0 and Poplar Bluff tied Bishop DuBourg 1-1. Bishop DuBourg finished fifth, with Poplar Bluff seventh and Northwest eighth.