Soccer downs rival Hickman, wins fourth straight district title

Photo by Randi Obermiller

Photo by Randi Obermiller (Jeff City Jays)

Brayden Parker

Photo by Randi Obermiller
Senior Jacob Kovarik advances the ball into the front half of the field against the Jefferson City Jays Oct. 22. Kovarik, who played in tonight’s victory against Hickman in the distric championship,  scored the first goal against the Kewpies.
Photo by Randi Obermiller
[heading]Rock Bridge 3, Hickman 0[/heading] In rivalry games anything can happen.
Senior Jacob Kovarik and the Bruin soccer team just made sure to continue doing what already happened.
Taking on  Hickman High School in the MSHSAA Class 3 District 9 Championship Game, the Bruins (20-4-1) maintained their success against the crosstown rivals this season, downing the Kewpies (8-15-1) by a score 0f 3-0 Thursday night at Lemone Field in Columbia. RBHS recorded their second shutout of HHS this season after blanking the Kewpies 5-0 in October.
Just as they did in their district semifinal victory over Sedalia Smith-Cotton on Tuesday, the Bruins exploded on offense early in the game. After advancing the ball into the Kewpie front Kovarik started the scoring for RBHS, netting a goal in the 10th minute. Much like his team, Kovarik carried over the success he had in his first meeting with Hickman where he tallied three first half goals in route to the hat trick. However, with this rematch being contested in the post-season, Kovarik didn’t think much about it.
“The last Hickman game was irrelevant tonight,” Kovarik said, “because tonight it was win or go home.”
While he didn’t emphasize the relevance of the opponent, Kovarik did recognize the implications that each goal during the state tournament holds.
“Scoring postseason gives you so much more of a rush,” he said, “because you’re whole season is on the line, rather than just one game.”
With their season on the line, the entire Bruins squad took advantage of the HHS defenders and of the emotions that come with each elusive postseason score. Though no more  balls found themselves in the back of the net during the first half of play, two would skip past the Kewpie keeper during an insane 58th minute. Starting with a goal from sophomore Tarnue Tyler that put RBHS ahead 2-0 on the next kickoff the Bruins advanced the ball deep into HHS territory were ultimately a foul was committed in the box by the Kewpies, setting up a penalty quick. Moving quickly, junior Connor Blitz converted the shot for the Bruins third goal. Playing out the final 22 minutes the Bruin defense denied any late attacks and held on for the 3-0 win and subsequently the district championship.
“We played well. Definitely not at the level we want to be at though,” Tarnue said. “We still came away with the win tonight and I’m proud of the team and we will immediately get back to work and be ready for whoever we play next. We always just focus on our next challenge and we look at their strengths and weaknesses.”
While the Bruins will continue to prepare for the next opponent, it is hard to find many flaws in the program that tonight won its fourth consecutive district championship. Continuing on success from previous seasons, the team is pleased with yet another title but realizes the risk of complacency. Each players goals remain the same from the beginning of the season: “Win state.”
RBHS will have the opportunity to continue their season and take the next step to the state championship next Tuesday when the Bruins take on another rival, Jefferson City (19-6). But for the time being the excitement surrounding the district championship is immense and is now surrounding the team as a whole.
“The title means a ton to us,” Kovarik said. “It just shows that the whole Rock Bridge soccer program has a great staff and hardworking kids. It’s always nice to have the trophy on the south side.”
 By Brayden Parker