Soccer moves to state semifinals

Soccer+moves+to+state+semifinals

Daphne Yu

Playing center midfielder, senior Eli Sherman just kicked the ball to one of his teammates. The Bruins beat Kickapoo 1-0. Photo by Stazi Prost
After winning the quarterfinal game on home turf this evening 1-0 against the Kickapoo Chiefs (22-3), the boys soccer team (21-7-1)  is headed to state for the third year in a row, something that doesn’t happen a lot, Head Coach Alex Nichols said.
Although this victory is impressive, Nichols says the team is “not done yet by any stretch,” but they should enjoy this win.
The Bruins will play Chaminade (23-2-2) Friday, Nov. 16 for a chance to advance to the state finals. Rockhurst (19-9-1) will also advance to the semifinals; the final team competing at the final four has not been determined yet.
Both Kickapoo and RBHS came into today’s game trying to dominate, and for most of the first half, both teams were well-matched. Bruins and Chiefs attempted goals but none were successful until senior Tyler Bales scored with eight minutes left on the clock. Although Kickapoo is a tough opponent, the Bruins knew coming into the game that a victory was possible and Bales’ success only reinforced their determination.
When Bales scored, “it was just disbelief that we were actually here in this situation and we can actually win,” junior Jacob Kovarik said.  “If we’re tough, we can beat anybody, and I think we really proved that tonight.”
Although RBHS went into the second half with a goal already in the net, they weren’t finished. Coming back from the break, the Chiefs played with more drive, demanding the Bruins multiple times to play defense. RBHS answered with just as much power and vamped up their defensive prowess. Junior goalie Greg Kelly led the successful fight by saving multiple goals.
“We knew it didn’t matter who we were going to play in the next game, we had to worry about this one right now,” Kovarik said. “I can’t really express what was going through my head, but all that mattered was that Greg came out with it.”
After more than four close calls for the Bruins and near-successes for the Chiefs, RBHS finally pulled through and the buzzer rang with a 1-0 on the scoreboard in favor of the Bruins. For Nichols, when the loud tone sounded across the field, he was proud of the team but knew the journey this far was the result of a season’s worth of work.
“Every moment’s emotional for me,” Nichols said. “I’ve struggled with that for some time, whether it’s for the good sometimes or the bad other [times]. Every moment here is emotional because of what these guys put in, us coaches and players.”
This week, the team will work on rehabilitating members of the team, many of whom are injured, and preparing for their semifinal game against Chaminade. RBHS played the Chaminade Red Devils before, but the game ended in a bitter loss after two overtimes and penalty kicks.
“I’d say our guys are pretty motivated guys,” Nichols said, “But, I mean every bit of motivation is always going to push us even more, but [revenge] is by no means the only thing pushing us.”
After making it to the semifinals two years in a row and coming home with a third place title, the boys are ready to rewrite history this year. Although tough teams – including Rockhurst – will also play at the semifinals, the Bruins are confident they can pull through.
“We know that we can beat anybody,” Kovarik said, “and we’re looking forward to beating everyone that’s there.”
By Daphne Yu