COLUMBIA — Kayla Hauck makes the Rock Bridge offense click.
After missing six games with a concussion, she is back and leading the Bruins on a late season surge. The sophomore left striker is often teamed up with senior and leading-scorer Lauren Kelly. The two have meshed well together, leading to an increase in scoring for the team. The Bruins are 4-1-1 in their last six games.
“She’s (Kelly) got a real good sense of the field,” Hauck said. “And speed. It’s easy to sew the ball through and find her. We’ve been practicing a lot lately and developing that chemistry.”
“They make a good pair together,” coach Kelly Gates said. “I think Kayla is happy to be working with Lauren up there.”
Hauck’s playmaking ability opens up a host of legitimate scoring chances for her teammates. Modestly, Hauck deflects the praise to her teammates.
“Finding the through balls with the other forwards and midfielders is easy when you got people running for you,” Hauck said. “We have been talking a lot.”
Hauck brings the same mentality to every game — leave it all out on the field.
“My biggest focus is to go out and be aggressive,” Hauck said. “When we don’t’ get to the 50/50 balls, we are back on our heels. I go out there wanting every ball.”
Hauck credits this soccer mentality to her older brother Henry, currently a freshman soccer player at Central Bible College in Springfield.
“My brother always played so I played with him in our basement,” Hauck said. “He is who I always compared myself to. He teaches me a lot.”
Hauck started playing soccer at the age of five. She moved to Columbia from Wichita, Kan. two years later. After arriving here she spent some time at the Carrera and Pride soccer clubs. Just this past fall, she started playing for a new team started by her father, nicknamed “Flair.”
“We were trying to find a good way to get the better players together so we started our own (team),” Hauck said.
The team has several members of the Rock Bridge JV squad as well as Kelsey Reimler from the varsity team. Flair doesn’t compete in a league, yet plays tournaments in Saint Louis and Kansas City.
“We had a good core last year,” Hauck said. “We were just getting started so we usually get third place in those (tournaments).”
Hauck tries to remain focused on the soccer going on right now. She has plenty of motivation.
“I play pretty much for the seniors,” Hauck said. “It’s their last year to give. We’ve got a great senior class so they make our job pretty easy.”
Hauck returns the favor, often serving as quite the motivator for her team.
“We have some good warm-up stuff,” Hauck said. “I jump around a lot; just to get the energy flowing. I’m always trying to stay moving and stay positive.”
“She has a good attitude,” Gates said. “She doesn’t second-guess the coaches. She works very hard. I have never seen her become negative.”
As well as being the motivator for her team, Hauck understands the role she needs to play for her team to win.
“Pretty much just trying to set up the team for success — distribute balls and play to people’s strengths — and to build up enthusiasm for games,” Hauck said.
Heading into districts, Hauck likes the way the team is shaping up.
“We’re really starting to come together,” Hauck said. “We are getting a lot better communication on the field. Good camaraderie off the field — it makes playing that much more fun.”
Hauck believes the Bruins can make another run through districts just like in 2007.
“These are some good teams,” Hauck said. “But we are playing the best we have this season. We just got to want it.”