Friday, October 2, 2009

One hot minute

Game turns on Bruins goal, save of Hickman penalty kick in 73rd.

Photo by Nick King
Hickman’s Logan Forsythe slides under Rock Bridge’s Rhys McCracken as Forsythe’s teammate James Moesel trails in the second half last night. Rock Bridge’s 2-1 win put the Bruins (6-5) above .500 for the first time this season. Hickman fell to 4-4-1.

By David Briggs
Thursday, October 1, 2009

Rock Bridge’s boys soccer team is not short on experience. The Bruins start eight seniors while another four provide depth to a squad expected to contend for the Class 3 District 9 title.

Photo by Nick King
Rock Bridge goalie Brady Wulff gives the bench a thumbs-up after blocking a Hickman penalty shot in the second half. The save came moments after Rock Bridge took the lead in the 73rd minute. Rock Bridge Coach Kyle Austin called it the season’s “signature save.”

Photo by Nick King
Rock Bridge’s Danny Baird, center, celebrates his game-winning goal with teammate Rhys Mc- Cracken in the Bruins’ 2-1 victory. The 73rd-minute goal was the first of junior Baird’s varsity career.
Last night
Rock Bridge 2, Hickman 1
Just don’t forget about the underclassmen.

Last night, it was a pair of varsity greenhorns delivering the biggest plays in Rock Bridge’s 2-1 victory over Hickman at Sells Field.

Junior Danny Baird, a lifelong midfielder turned defender this season, scored his first career goal to put the Bruins ahead in the 73rd minute before junior goalie Brady Wulff saved the game moments later. After a foul high in the box set up a Kewpies penalty kick, the first-year goalie dove left and made what Coach Kyle Austin called the season’s “signature save.”

Perfect timing, too. The clutch displays came not only in the crosstown clash but helped push the Bruins (6-5) above .500 for the first time this season.

“Just a great win,” Wulff said. “It’s a big district game, so it gets us off to a good start.”

The night ultimately pivoted on that single one-minute sequence in the final minutes.

As the 73rd minute came, neither side had wrested away any lasting advantage.

Senior Josh Litofsky keyed a strong Rock Bridge start — the Bruins had five of their 12 shots in the opening 10 minutes — with a score off a corner kick in the fourth minute. But the pace had long been tempered by the time Hickman’s Colin Janicek answered early in the second half.
The game winning play, too, began innocuously enough with a throw in on a set Rock Bridge often practiced but rarely mastered.

“Maybe one in 100 times it works perfectly,” Austin said.

Senior Travis Salvo launched the ball from near the right corner to forward Josh Hulen atop the box opposite the near post. Normally, the ball is cleared away in traffic. But this time, Hulen was able to post up and bump a pass to Baird a few yards in front of the goal.

Baird took the bouncing ball from the air, aimed straight and hoped he’d kept it low enough.
He did … barely. The ball ricocheted down and past the goal line.

Rock Bridge’s bench erupted while Baird sprinted in joy to the far 18-yard box.

“It was probably the most pumped I’ve ever been in my life,” said Baird, who was moved to Rock Bridge’s defense before his first full varsity year. “Probably the biggest goal I’ve ever scored.”

“To step up and have a goal like that against your district rival and to have that be your first goal on varsity?” Austin said. “I can’t even imagine what’s going through his head.”

Yet the celebration lasted less than a minute as a foul sent junior midfielder Matt Baker in for a penalty kick.

On the sideline, Austin waved frantically trying to get Wulff’s attention. He almost always left decisions on penalty kicks up to his goalies, and said he would feel particularly comfortable doing so with Wulff.

“He’s just a great goalkeeper,” Austin said. “He’s got great natural instincts and great reaction time.”

But Austin remembered Baker had gone to the right during Hickman’s shootout win over Rock Bridge last season. The Bruins’ second-year coach had a feeling he would do so again.

“I was yelling frantically trying to get his attention,” Austin said. “I’m waving trying to point which direction he’s going. To his credit, he didn’t tip it if he saw me.”

“I saw him,” Wulff said.

The scouting report held true. Baker lined the ball to the low right corner, where the diving Wulff lay in wait. The junior’s third tough save of the night secured Rock Bridge’s first victory over Hickman since October 2007.

Hickman, meanwhile, fell to 4-4-1. Coach Larry Thornburg said he was proud of his team’s effort.

“We play possession soccer and we’ve been working on that all year,” Thornburg said. “This was the best game we’ve had yet. Rock Bridge has a heck of a team of athletes and it’s extremely hard to possess the ball on guys that are quick and strong, so I was really happy with the way my guys possessed the ball.”

Reach David Briggs at

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Driving Directions

  • WAYNESVILLE : Take 63 South Towards Jeff City. Take US-54 W thru Osage Beach to Camdenton. Take MO Hwy 5 South to Lebanon , MO.Continue on MO Hwy 5 South to I-44 E towards Waynesville, MO. Take Exit 156, toward WAYNESVILLE/FORT LEONARD WOOD. Turn LEFT onto HIGHWAY H/I-44-BL/MO-H. Continue to follow I-44-BL.Turn RIGHT onto MO-17/W I-44-BL.1001 HISTORIC 66 W.
  • QUINCY TOURNAMENT IN QUINCY ILLINOIS: From Columbia Take 70 West to Kingdom City. Take 54 North to Mexico and then 54 east and north (54/19) to Laddonia. From Laddonia take 19 North to New London and then 61 North to Hannibal. When you get to Hannibal, you will need to take a right at the sign that says Quincy or to Illinois or to Springfield which is hwy 72 across the river. You will then pick up Highway 172 north to Quincy. In Quincy take the Broadway exit and go left.The fields we are playing on are located on State Street. The streets in Quincy that run West to East are numbered streets. The Mississippi River is to the West and the street numbers get higher the further East you go. When you enter from highway 172 the first street you will see is 48th street. Go left. At State St turn right and the park is a few blocks on the right. The Paul Dennis Complex is located on State between 36th and 48th street.
  • JEFFERSON CITY- 179 SOCCER PARK: Take 63 to Jeff City. Across the river take Hwy 50 toward Sedalia. Take the hwy 179 exit and turn right onto 179. The soccer park is about 3 miles on your left.
  • DESMET High school from CBC High school (about 3 miles): leave CBC and turn left (east) onto N Forty Dr. Turn right onto Conway Rd. Follow Conway Rd to left at S New Ballas Rd and it is about 1.2 miles to the high school at 233 N. New Ballas Rd.
  • CBC High school in St Louis: about 1 hour and 50 minutes. Take I-70 east to US40E/US61S just past Wentzville. Head toward Chesterfield/Forrest Park. About 23 miles to Mason Rd exit. Take S Mason Rd north back over the highway. Turn right on N. Forty Dr and the high school is on your left about a mile at 1850 De la Salle Dr.
  • CAMDENTON: Hwy 54 out of Jeff City to Hwy 5 in Camdenton. Turn left (east) on to Hwy 5. Continue on Hwy 5 for 5 or 6 blocks and can see the school campus on your left (north side of road). Turn on to Dare Blvd and the stadium is a block or two behind the schools.
  • SMITHTON TOURNAMENT: I-70 west to Booneville. Exit on Hwy 5 south. From Hwy 5 take Hwy 50 west. Go to Hwy W and turn south. Follow Hwy W into Smithton. Turn east on to E. Washington St. (I think this is a continuation of Hwy W), Turn right (south) on to Myrtle Ave and the school is 550 Myrtle Ave. Games are at the school.
  • ROLLA: Hwy 63 out of Jefferson City. Continue on Hwy 63 into Rolla. Turn left (east) on to 10th St. Continue on 10th St about 8 blocks to N. Cedar St. High School is at corner of N. Cedar and 10th St. Soccer field is behind the high school.