Rock Bridge soccer team showcases three talented goalkeepers

Monday, November 7, 2011 | 10:41 p.m. CST
Bruins' goalkeeper Andrew Bare prepares to stop a ball during practice on Nov. 7 at Rock Bridge High School. Bare is one of three goalies for the team, which has a sectionals match on Tuesday.

COLUMBIA — Imagine if Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and a healthy Peyton Manning were all on the same team. Sounds great, right?

But football is played with one quarterback, not three. How do you split the time between three talented players without throwing off the individual players or the team's rhythm?

Tuesday's Class 3 sectional game

Rolla (19-8)
vs. Rock Bridge (25-3)

WHEN: 6 p.m.
WHERE: Rock Bridge High School

This is the problem, if you want to call it a problem, that the Rock Bridge High School boys soccer team faces when it comes to goalkeeping.

Seniors Jonas Gassmann and Andrew Bare said they have known each other since seventh grade and came to know sophomore Greg Kelly last year. All of the Bruins' goalkeepers have performed well. All three have appeared in at least six games, been part of at least five shutouts and given up less than one goal per game.

Assistant coach Alex Nichols said the Bruins are trying to take advantage of the situation.

"It breeds a competitive atmosphere having three really good goalies who would all start for any other team in the state," Nichols said.

Bare said he sees Kelly as a little brother.

Gassmann said of Kelly, "I look at him like the next generation, so I'm always trying to help him out."

Head coach Kyle Austin said the seniors have set up a great atmosphere and environment for Kelly.

"He's also provided a level of competition for them, and it's pushed them more than they could push each other," Austin said.

Kelly said the opportunity to play on the varsity level this season will help him going forward.

"This year I've actually had a lot of varsity experience so that will definitely help next year," he said.

In practice, Austin said Bare and Gassmann feed off each other, but added that when it's game time "they are in each other's corner."

Bare agreed.

"It brings a fun side to it," he said. "We're competitive, and sometimes we don't like each other because of the fact that we're so competitive. But at the end of the day, we're still good friends."

Both coaches said deciding who to start each game comes down to who has been playing the best recently.

"Every single practice is essentially a tryout," said Nichols, who admitted it's a difficult decision at times.

"They all want to be the starter," Nichols said. "But they still want what's best for the other guy, too."

Regardless of who has been in goal, Rock Bridge has been successful. The Bruins are 25-3 and are ranked No. 1 in the state entering the sectional round of the Class 3 state playoffs.

Rock Bridge hosts Rolla (19-8) at 6 p.m. Tuesday. Last year, the Bruins ended the Bulldogs' season with a 3-2 sectional win in Rolla.

On Aug. 30, the Bruins won 2-1 at Rolla with Gassmann playing the entire game. This time around it will be Bare getting the start.

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