Sunday, November 15, 2009

Kewps prolong the magic

Late score puts Hickman in the state final four.
By Andrew Wagaman

Sunday, November 15, 2009

WAYNESVILLE — Hickman’s Class 3 state quarterfinal game yesterday was a microcosm of the team’s season.

Hickman 1, Kickapoo 0

The Kewpies sleep-walked through the first half while managing to hold Kickapoo scoreless. They looked like a new team after intermission but still struggled to capitalize on opportunities.

Then, when it mattered most, they made it happen.

Junior midfielder Brian Wilcox scored on senior forward Taylor Cox’s corner kick with less than two minutes remaining in the game, giving Hickman a 1-0 victory and sending the team to St. Louis for the semifinals. The late goal embodied the Kewpies’ remarkable postseason surge.

Frustrated after the team’s seven previous second-half shots on goal, Cox directed his kick just a few yards outside the net. The ball barely flew over Kewpie George Plakorus’ head, but Wilcox was able to get his right foot on it.

“I just went up and tried to get to the ball as well as I could,” Wilcox said. “It’s a great feeling to score in the last few minutes of the game.”

“When we play possession soccer and look to find feet we are a great team,” Coach Adam Taylor said. “When we start kicking and dribbling too much we don’t perform very well. In the second half they” played possession soccer “and they came out and got a ‘W.’ I knew it was going to be a tough game, told my assistant coach on the way down, ‘It’s probably going to be a one-goal game.’”

The Kewpies (14-8-2) sure didn’t look excited to be at Waynesville High in the first half.

They reacted slowly, passed indiscriminately and just looked flat-out clumsy. In the first 10 minutes Kickapoo had two close-in headers, one wide and one hit straight to Hickman goalkeeper Chuck Wilson. Defender Cody Gordon seemed to get away with a handball in the box, and only a leaping save by Wilson stopped Ian Kennedy from netting a free kick from 5 yards out.

Then, late in the half, Aaron Strunk hit the crossbar on a close-range shot.

Hickman was forutnate to still be tied after 40 minutes of play.

“We got a few fortunate breaks in the half, and I was glad to go into half 0-0,” Taylor said. “It’s always about making halftime adjustments.”

One adjustment was how the Kewpies approached forward Skyler Russell, who consistently used a basketball post-up move to shield the ball and spin past his defender. Taylor had his players back off, forcing Russell to beat them straight-up.

“He likes to use a lot of body, so we gave him a little space,” Taylor said. “We didn’t let him get comfortable in the second half.”

Hickman took over the game in the final 20 minutes but had as much trouble finishing as the Chiefs had in the first half. Connor Hollrah missed right with just the goalie in front of him, and Cox was robbed on a shot that got past the goalie but was blocked by defender Dane Ruggeri on the goal line. Cox’s perfect corner kick in the 79th minute compensated for it.

Kickapoo was the fourth straight team to have its season ended by Hickman after beating the Kewpies during the regular season. The Chiefs won 2-1 on Oct. 16. Taylor believes Hickman’s postseason success grows from the seed of confidence planted after a 7-0 victory over Smith-Cotton in the District 9 quarterfinals.

“You do that against any opponent and, especially in the district tournament, you know you have a team that’s ready to go,” he said.

Friday at 5 p.m. at the Anheuser-Busch soccer complex, Hickman takes on Christian Brothers College (23-4-3), which beat Vianney 2-1 in double overtime. Unfortunately, the Kewpies did not play and lose to CBC during the regular season. The game will be their most formidable test yet.

But while the players are tickled by the fact that they’ve gone from the fourth seed in District 9 to one of the final four teams in the state, don’t expect them to play like they don’t belong there.

“We’re just going to go out there and leave it all on the field,” Wilcox said. “I don’t think any of us expected to be going to the state final four at the beginning of the season, but it has really come together in the postseason. Everyone has played really hard and well together.”

“Just because it’s CBC doesn’t mean they walk on the field and beat you,” Taylor said. “They’re going to have to go through 80 minutes of us.

“No matter what happens, we’re going to have fun, a lot of fun. This is about the players, and they need to cherish this forever, because this doesn’t come along very often.”

This article was published on page B9 of the Sunday, November 15, 2009 edition of The Columbia Daily Tribune. Click here to Subscribe.

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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.