QUINCY -- Quincy High School boys soccer coach Ron Bridal and his staff devoted two full practices to a style change in order to combat the firepower of Gateway Legacy Christian Academy.
It worked as well as anyone could have hoped.
The Blue Devils surrendered a goal in each half Saturday at Flinn Stadium and walked away with a 2-0 loss to one of the best high school teams they have faced in Bridal's tenure as head coach.
"Kudos to the boys," Bridal said. "They did everything we asked them to do. They concentrated and did a good job of communicating to stay compact and stay together."
Bridal figured a defensive game plan gave the Blue Devils (3-4) their best chance.
"We sat in our half of the field, played a little more defense and looked for a counterattack," Bridal said.
It nearly led to a tying goal late in the first half. Down 1-0, QHS junior Andrew VanderMaiden jumped on a counterattack and turned it into a 1-on-1 situation with the Gateway keeper. VanderMaiden was denied, but it showed much of the resolve Bridal was hoping to see.
The defense showed it, too. Junior goalkeeper Frank Heck made 10 saves and got contributions from everyone around him, including Zach Nuttelman clearing a ball off the goal line.
It's the kind of effort that could carry over to a busy week that features four games in six days, including a Western Big Six Conference matchup with Galesburg on Tuesday and the rivalry game against Quincy Notre Dame on Thursday.
"The confidence from this can be huge," Bridal said.