Soccer prepares for districts during 10-day break


Jeff City kicks a corner kick and their players attempt a header, while number 12, Blake Hausman, grade 12, jumps to defend the goal. Photo by Randi Obermiller

Luke Chval

Jeff City kicks a corner kick and their players attempt a header, while number 12, Blake Hausman, grade 12, jumps to defend the goal.
Jeff City kicks a corner kick and their players attempt a header, while number 12, senior Blake Hausman, jumps to defend the goal.
Photo by Randi Obermiller
[heading]Following strong regular season, soccer focuses on postseason[/heading] When the boys soccer team entered the season at the beginning of the school year, it was nationally ranked at 28, an amazing feat for a public school in Columbia.
Senior midfielder Salim Gumati said his team had high expectations prior to the season.
“At the beginning of the year, I wanted to go undefeated. I saw those rankings, and I wanted us to be great,” Gumati said. “We wanted to beat Chaminade, but we didn’t; we wanted to beat as many private schools out of Kansas City and St. Louis as possible. We wanted to show that we belonged with the highest competition.”
Soccer coach Alex Nichols is preparing his team for the MSHSAA Class 3 District 9 Tournament that starts Nov. 5. RBHS (16-4-1) is scheduled to face Smith-Cotton High School (13-8-1) of Sedalia, Mo. The Bruins recently finished the regular season with only one loss and are the No. 1 seed heading into the Districts Tournament. The team has high expectations for the districts.
“We prepare the same way [despite the long break in the Bruins’ schedule],” Nichols said. “We work on most glaring weaknesses and get better with area that we are successful in.”
There are drawbacks and benefits to this 10-day break that senior striker Jacob Kovarik sees in the practice time. The long time allows the players to rest but can also get their minds off the game. Kovarik said his team has to stay focused during this time.
“The break between games just allows us to train harder than normal,” Kovarik said. “We don’t have to worry about wearing ourselves out for the game with it being next week.”
Although the break will certainly give the Bruins’ a rest, Gumati thinks that maintaining the performance level the Bruins’ have upheld all season long could be difficult.
“We’re going to have to work harder during practice now because we won’t have other teams to play against, we’re going to have to make ourselves better,” Gumati said. “And that’s a big point that [Coach] Nichols made throughout this week.”
Kovarik, Nichols and Gumati stressed the main goal of the team right now is to win the state title. Nichols believes anything less than winning it all would be underachieving for this team.
“For the last three years our goal has been to win state,” Gumati said. “Even getting to the finals is not our goal; our goal is to win state.”
Kovarik has the same perspective on the playoffs as Nichols and Gumati, and their goal is to win state. Kovarik knows there is talent on his team, which is the reason he, his teammates and coach all believe deeply in the success of the Bruins.
“Each player on our team has a large amount of individual skill,” Kovarik said. “And our success came when we were able to combine all of our individual skills and make one team out of it.”
The postseason will have six games for RBHS, which means that high school soccer will soon be over for the seniors, including Gumati and Kovarik. Both are reminiscent about the game of soccer and what it has done for them in their lives. Kovarik especially appreciated the camaraderie of the soccer team during his years at RBHS.
“Soccer has given me discipline and entertainment,” Kovarik said. “But most of all a huge group of guys that I pretty much call my family.”
Gumati has similar thoughts as he sees his experiences of the sport impact every other area of his life. He believes soccer has improved his work ethic for his academics also.
“It’s taught me a lot about character, about how to work with a team, how to be a leader,” Gumati said. “And all of those qualities have shown through in school and other activities that I’ve done.”
The Bruins have many strengths that other teams will have to keep up with in the early rounds of the state tournament, but in later rounds the Bruins’ will have to use their strengths to exploit the weaknesses of other talented teams.
“Other teams struggle to match our speed,” Kovarik. “And our speed will play a huge part in our ability to beat teams.”
By Luke Chval