Soccer set for El Clasicomo


Senior forward Joey Koetting jumps to head a ball while battling a Rolla defender, seniors Julian John and Mitch Stefan look on. Photo by Sury Rawat.

Derek Wang

With a record of 10-12-2, RBHS soccer enters the district tournament looking to recreate its district win from last year. This year, however, will be much different. With the addition of BHS, the Bruins have been thrust into a new division with the Spartans, along with rivals Hickman and Jefferson City.
Although RBHS steamrolled HHS and JCHS last year in the district tournament with scores of 3-0 and 4-0, respectively, the Kewpies and Jays have greatly improved over the offseason. HHS has changed their record from last year’s 8-14-1 to 12-5, and JCHS has a similar record of 12-4.
RBHS head coach Scott Wittenborn said the team has been playing with great intensity but needs to work on capitalizing on their opportunities.
“We play well as a team,” Wittenborn said. “Our biggest challenge at districts will be to stay together, defend on counters, and finish our opportunities when they are available. If we play our best soccer I believe we have a good shot at winning districts.”
Wittenborn said the team will watch film of its games and learn from its mistakes as the tournament progresses. The Bruins will have to play as well as they possibly can in order to beat a solid Kewpie team who drubbed Battle 4-0 in the other district semifinal. Pushing past a tough match against the Jays Monday, during which they won 1-0 on a dramatic goal from senior midfielder Connor Blitz just 36 seconds into overtime, the Bruins seek to fix some some last-minute errors before facing the Kewpies in a game dubbed El Clasicomo, a spin off of the term El Clasico, a term given to any match between bitter rivals Real Madrid and Barcelona.
“We have to learn to cut off the one or two mental lapses we have during the game,” senior defender Nicky Baird said. “In practice we need to bring the intensity that we expect to have in the game and we need to keep that up during our game. We need to play a good full 80 minutes of soccer and believe that we can compete with any team.”
Senior forward Joey Koetting is confident RBHS can win. He said the team has been looking forward to the game against the Kewpies and expects it will be a close game just like the game during the regular season, where RBHS lost 2-2 (0-3 PKs).
“I think we do a good job of bouncing back from any setbacks,” Koetting said. “As long as we finish our chances, and we get a lot of chances, I expect to win.”