COLUMBIA — Entering the season, Rock Bridge head boys soccer coach Kyle Austin wondered how his team would make up for senior Kory McDonald's move from defender to midfielder.
The solution came from assistant coach Alex Nichols.
vs. Rock Bridge (27-3)
WHEN: 6 p.m. Friday
WHERE: Blue Springs South High School
Move junior Jordan Reiske from the midfield to defense.
"He was by far one of the superior defenders," Nichols said of Reiske. "He was never playing the defender position, but in the defensive drills that we run, he was always at the top.
"Kyle and I ended up putting him there at the beginning of the year in different drills to see how it looked, and, go figure, he was a perfect fit."
Senior Sam Stoeckl, one of Reiske's fellow defenders, wasn't sure how well Reiske would fit into his new position.
"I think at the beginning of the year, we weren't sure whether he would be able to fill the role," Stoeckl said. "We always knew he was a good technical defender. But I think he’s just gotten a lot smarter and a lot more intelligent with his play over time.
"I think that's really helped him to shape up to be one of the best defenders in the state."
Reiske said the move to defense was a tough one, especially since he has played midfielder the past three years. He said the biggest difference was the responsibility that comes with being a defender.
"I'm used to having defense behind me, but in this case I am the last line."
His play on the last line is part of the reason the Bruins (27-3) are playing in the Class 3 state semifinals against Oakville High School (20-7-1) on Friday in Blue Springs.
Reiske came up with a crucial play in Rock Bridge's 2-0 win over Nixa in the state quarterfinals this past Saturday. With the game still scoreless, and the Bruins' sophomore goalkeeper Greg Kelly out of position, Reiske kept a Nixa shot from finding the back of the net.
"It was actually kind of funny," Reiske said of the play. "I went backwards because I tripped over my own feet or something, but I caught it with my foot, trapped it and kicked it out. So I guess it was just luck."
Austin said he saw the play differently, and was impressed by Reiske's composure during the play.
"The ball comes flying at him, about to go in the goal, and he has the composure and the state of mind to just trap the ball and knock it out," Austin said.
Stoeckl said he has seen that kind of composure from Reiske all season.
"He's really calm," he said. "He's able to just handle the pressure of situations and come up big whenever he needs to."
Austin characterized Reiske as a reserved and humble player.
"He's a super quiet kid who just goes about his business," he said. "I think inside of his social circle he’s probably a little bit more outgoing."
Reiske's teammates said it's more than a little bit.
"He's probably one of the funniest people I have ever talked to," Stoeckl said.
Junior defender Patrick Bromstedt agreed.
"He's quiet until you break his outer shell," Bromstedt said. "Then he's probably one of the most fun people to hang out with. He's got a really funny personality. He'll say some things out of the blue that nobody would expect."
Bromstedt said that when it's game time, though, Reiske is a different person.
"When we hit the field it's all business for him," he said.
Austin said he sees that side of Reiske, too.
"He has fun and he's got a good personality," Austin said. "But at the end of the day he’s a hard worker and I think that shows in all aspects of his life."