By Andrew Wagaman
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Class 3 District 9
Hickman 1, Rock Bridge 0
Jefferson City 1, Troy Buchanan 0
Jefferson City at Hickman, 6 p.m.
Photo by Parker Eshelman
Hickman’s George Plakorus is congratulated by teammate Koby Meyer after scoring the winning goal in Tuesday night’s 1-0 victory over Rock Bridge.
Even after securing a 1-0 upset of their crosstown rivals, the Kewpies seemed to maintain the tunnel-vision focus that they used to stifle the Bruins.
“They came to play,” Hickman Coach Adam Taylor said. “I preached to them that if they played the way I asked them to, they’d come out with a victory tonight, and they did exactly what I wanted them to do.”
If one of Taylor’s requests to his defense was to deny the opposing attack mentally as well as physically, they surely listened. Hickman (11-8-2) had the unenviable task of playing with a 1-0 lead for 74 minutes, but the confident backs played like they were used to protecting leads against Rock Bridge (13-9), which won the first meeting this season 2-1.
“Our intensity was really high,” goalie Chuck Wilson said. “We talked a lot — our communication was great tonight. We played like one team.”
As the desperate Bruins vigorously attacked in the second half, Logan Forsythe and Koby Meyer countered the speed and agility of Rock Bridge players such as Rhys McCracken and George Baird with their size. When the Bruins managed to get open and take shots, Wilson anticipated every one.
“I was trying to keep the ball in front of me as much as I could,” he said. “It was coming at me left and right nonstop the second half.”
Cognizant of the Bruins’ tendency to capitalize on headers and long crosses, Taylor emphasized outfighting them in the air.
“We knew their strategy was to send the ball in the air to the far post,” he said. “I preached to them that if we win the ball in the air we would win the game.”
Almost lost in the suspense surrounding the second half was George Plakorus’ odd goal six minutes into the game. Rock Bridge’s early anxiousness led to numerous Hickman free kicks. Plakorus sent one — a line drive that was meant for forward Matthew Baker — a little left of where Baker meant to head it. He inadvertently blocked goalie Brady Wulff’s line of sight, allowing Plakorus’ kick to roll uncontested into the far left corner. At the other end of the field, Wilson was confused by what he’d seen.
“I was like, ‘Is anybody going to get that?’ ” he said. “I saw the other goalie standing still. I was amazed. I did not expect it to go in.”
After the first 10 minutes, and especially in the second half, Rock Bridge Coach Kyle Austin felt his team outplayed the Kewpies.
“We created a number of opportunities for ourselves,” he said. “We had two balls on our forwards’ feet inside the 18 and neither one could make good solid contact. Ironically, we played better this time against them than over at our place when we beat them.”
As time passed, the Bruins became progressively frustrated, leading to an extremely physical second half. At one point Wilson was bodyslammed out of bounds as he collected the ball.
“We talked about that a halftime,” Taylor said. “I said, ‘The last 20 minutes they’re going to be coming at you, and you need to keep your composure because you can’t give them free pieces outside the box.’ ”
Fourth-seeded Hickman bottled the momentum it gained from a 7-0 quarterfinal victory over Smith-Cotton on Saturday. Taylor hopes that his team does not drain all of it before the district final against second-seeded Jefferson City at 6 p.m. tomorrow. The Jays (10-5-3) beat Troy Buchanan 1-0 last night in the semifinals.
This article was published on page B1 of the Wednesday, November 4, 2009 edition of The Columbia Daily Tribune. Click here to Subscribe.