Midseason change doesn’t faze Hickman.
By Steve Walentik
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Photo by Parker Eshelman :
Adam Taylor took over as Hickman’s soccer coach after Larry Thornburg resigned in the middle of the season.
It’s been two weeks since the Hickman boys soccer season was thrown into upheaval by Coach Larry Thornburg’s resignation in the wake of a Sept. 30 loss to crosstown rival Rock Bridge.
But his departure really hasn’t been the disturbance that it could have been.
The Kewpies dropped their first game without Thornburg on the bench but have won three of four since Adam Taylor took over as the interim coach. Their latest victory was a 2-0 shutout of Glendale yesterday at LeMone Field.
“It was a change, that’s for sure, but I think we’ve adapted pretty well,” senior forward Taylor Cox said. “It could have caused a lot of distractions, but we didn’t let it get to us that much, which is good.”
Some players said the change was welcome after Hickman’s 4-4-2 start. Thornburg’s system put an emphasis on getting the ball to the wings and using crossing passes to generate scoring opportunities. The Kewpies scored fewer than two goals in six of their first 10 games, including the 2-1 defeat to the Bruins.
“I think all the guys were looking for something, to make some changes at that point,” senior midfielder Matt Baker said. “But we were all unsure of what we were going to do with the whole coaching thing. Now that we’ve had a few weeks, things have kind of settled down.”
The Hickman players have started to adjust to Taylor, who coached many of them on the junior varsity team over the past three seasons.
“He gives us more positive feedback and tries not to put us down but helps us along the way,” senior forward George Plakorus said. “He lets us learn from our mistakes, and we feel more free.”
Taylor has tinkered with Hickman’s plan of attack, putting another forward on the field in an effort to generate more scoring chances.
“The first couple games I watched, I just didn’t feel like we were going to the goal enough and wanted to try to get some more shots on goal,” Taylor said.
It hasn’t paid immediate dividends. The Kewpies only managed one goal in Friday night’s loss to visiting Kickapoo.
But Hickman fared better in yesterday’s game against Glendale, dominating the possession and putting steady pressure on its opponent. The Kewpies found the net in the 37th minute when sophomore Alex Holliday finished off a cross from Plakorus at the far post, and they took a 1-0 lead into intermission.
The defense and goalkeeper Chuck Wilson turned back every Falcons scoring chance. Hickman added an insurance goal with about eight minutes remaining when Colin Janicek fired the ball into the penalty area, Glendale goalie Jordan Pitts misplayed it and it came to Baker, who drove it into the net.
“We have twice as many shots as we did when we had Coach Thornburg, so we’re just going to get more chances,” Cox said. “We’re just not quite finishing right now.”
The Kewpies have two weeks to work on that before opening district play Nov. 2. They’ve already dropped games against district foes Jefferson City and Rock Bridge, but both defeats came by one goal.
“Our No. 1 goal is to be ready when playoffs start,” Taylor said, “so these kind of games are good work and good tests for us.”
Reach Steve Walentik at 573-815-1788 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article was published on page B7 of the Sunday, October 18, 2009 edition of The Columbia Daily Tribune. Click here to Subscribe.