LADUE — Michael Turza knew he could take a chance when it mattered most Saturday.
With less than 30 seconds to play, the John Burroughs junior goalkeeper rushed off his line and got just enough of a shot by Clayton senior forward Dillon Flynn to be able to recover and corral the ball as it fluttered near the goal line to preserve a 1-0 boys soccer victory.
“I went up for the ball and I got a little contact on my side and it disoriented me,” Turza said. “I was lucky that the ball had backspin, so I was able to get to it. Even when the ball was going through, I knew I had guys behind me. It was definitely not just me that came up big.”
The last-minute defensive play enabled a 19th-minute goal by junior John Gates to stand up and give the Bombers (13-1, No. 1 in the STLhighschoolsports.com small-schools rankings) the win in a battle of top-ranked small schools.
Gates scored the lone goal with a low shot against 6-foot-1 Clayton senior goalkeeper Andrew Matheny.
“Hard work and preparation is everything and that's what separates good teams from great ones,” Gates said. “We were told that everything on the ground might have a chance to be a goal because their keeper is, like, 6-3 and looks like a football player. That's why I wanted to get it on the ground and it went through his legs and into the net.”
Despite scoring only one goal, the Bombers earned their ninth shutout of the season and first since Sept. 25.
“I wish we would have had more on the ground, we had plenty of service in the first half that was airmailed into the middle,” John Burroughs coach Alan Trzecki said. “We did get the one and I think (the shutout) is something everyone takes a lot of pride in. It's not just the keeper and the defense, the entire team takes a lot of pride when the other side doesn't score.”
The Bombers were playing for the first time since suffering their first loss of the season, a 2-1 setback Thursday at Priory that likely will decide the Metro League title.
“It was a huge rebound for everyone because Priory was the benchmark to our season,” Turza said.
The Greyhounds dropped their second game in three outings.
“You know, we're in a really tough stretch of games right now, so for us to (come close) does say a lot,” Clayton coach Tom Redmond said. “We'll just have to keep working to get better because we do have several more tough tests right in front of us.”