COLUMBIA – The Columbia Bears under-10 boys soccer team has a front row seat to every Rock Bridge Bruins girls soccer home game. But not for free.
The youth team is responsible for shagging all the balls for the high school team, and Preston Fancher hasn’t missed a game yet. His older sister, Alyssa Fancher, scored the first goal during Tuesday night's sectional game against Camdenton at Rock Bridge. It was her second goal of the season.
Her father, Pat Fancher, is the coach of the under-10 team. He volunteered his players to help out when no one else committed. In return, he too gets the “best seat in the house” to watch his daughter play.
“We sometimes outhustle the girls to the out-of-bounds ball,” Pat Fancher joked. “We have been trying to get the Rock Bridge team to come shag for us.”
Alyssa Fancher was excited to hear the news that her dad’s team would be helping the Bruins this season.
“It is pretty special that my dad is the first one to see me and say good job when I come off the field,” Alyssa Fancher said.
The Bruins won Tuesday night's game 4-1 to advance to this weekend's Class 3 state quarterfinals, but Rock Bridge coach Marc VanDover said he felt the game was off to a slow start until he pulled Alyssa Fancher off the bench.
“I told her when I put her in the game, ‘You have to score,'" VanDover said. "It was the reason I put her in. She said, ‘No problem, Coach.’”
With about 11 minutes left in the first half, Camdenton scored its only goal on a play by forward Danielle Brooks. Rock Bridge’s Carmen Boessen scored off a penalty kick before the first half ended to put the Bruins up 2-1.
At half, the Rock Bridge coaches stressed to their players that they needed to pick up their game if they didn't want their season to end.
In the second half, Rock Bridge delivered with two goals. Freshman Laurie Frew scored the Bruins’ third goal, and senior Sarah Humphrey scored the final goal.
One of Rock Bridge starters, Lindsey Cunningham, was carried off the field in the first half with a leg injury and was eventually taken to the hospital.
The Bruins are scheduled to play Glendale on Saturday in a quarterfinal competition. The game will be played at Rock Bridge, according to an announcement made at the end of the game.
This is not the first time the two teams have met. The Bruins (16-7-1) are the only team to have defeated Glendale (20-1) this season. Rock Bridge won 3-2 in an April 16 game in Springfield, Mo. Glendale beat visiting Parkview 7-0 in its sectional game Tuesday.
Even though Rock Bridge has already defeated Glendale, Alyssa Fancher said it doesn't mean anything.
“It is going to be a new team out there,” Alyssa Fancher said. “And it will be a completely new game.”