COLUMBIA — Senior night is always emotional for the Rock Bridge girls soccer team, and those emotions usually take away from the players' game.
"They lose their focus, and it usually takes a score from the other team before they realize it's an actual game they need to focus on to win," Bruins coach Marc VanDover said.
"But not tonight."
The Bruins defeated Smith-Cotton High School 2-0 on Wednesday night at Rock Bridge.
"Usually we lose them for a half, but the kids really played hard tonight," VanDover said.
Complete with 20 cheerleaders, the Bruins' mascot and nearly 200 fans, the Bruins started strong with early shots on goal. Their first goal came 25 minutes into the game from junior Carmen Boessen.
Senior Mary Bowman scored 26 minutes into the second half with an assist from Boessen.
Six Rock Bridge seniors — Mary Bowman, Sarah Bowman, Sarah Humphrey, Carrie Levy, Grace Priest, and Katelyn Tschiggfrie — were honored before the game. All six were part of Rock Bridge's back-to-back district championships in 2009 and 2010. The 2010 team went on to become a state semifinalist.
But at the end of last season, VanDover said he wasn't sure who would step up as this season's senior leader.
"I just didn't see it," VanDover said. "The seniors now weren't leaders at the time."
But Levy, the Bruins goalkeeper, provided the motivation and energy needed to lead the Bruins.
"Carrie has stepped into that role and became the leader of this team," VanDover said. "We call her name too often. She's a fantastic keeper."
Of the six seniors, four are signed to play collegiate soccer. Mary Bowman will play at Colorado College in Colorado Springs, Co., Sarah Bowman at Augustana College in Rock Island, Ill., Carrie Levy at Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla and Katelyn Tschiggfrie at Harding University in Searcy, Ark.
The victory improves the Bruins record to 12-6-1. They play at home again Thursday night against Hickman High School.