COLUMBIA — Hickman senior forward Jessie Loch had been sidelined with an ankle injury for almost three weeks.
However, Loch was not about to miss her own senior night.
Loch, who played her first game back from injury Wednesday against Helias, scored the first goal of the game for the Kewpies with just under 27 minutes to go in the first half.
It did not appear that Loch's ankle bothered her while scoring. She received a pass just over midfield and proceeded to sprint past all of the Hickman defenders, before depositing the ball into the corner of the net past the out-reached arms of Helias goalie Liz Czarnecki.
"She's a force," Hickman head coach Tony Gragnani said of Loch. "That's the thing that we have going into districts. She hasn't been able to play in those close games that have been close."
However, after building a 2-0 lead, the Kewpies were unable to hold on to it and eventually fell to the Crusaders 4-3.
After the final buzzer rang on Loch's last game on home turf, she called her team together. Even though her last game at home ended with a loss, she was not angry. Instead, she had her team huddle around her as she proceeded to give them a pep talk.
"I just told them that I am not sad that we lost," Loch said. "I told them we played a great game and to keep their heads up because we are going into districts."
Loch, who graduates later this month, will continue her soccer career next year at the University of Central Missouri. She had been in contact with the coach at Central Missouri for some time and decided to commit to the Jennies after she tore her ACL in August.
"I was like, 'I need to make a decision right now. So let's just go. Let's go where I feel comfortable,'" Loch said. "And where I felt comfortable was UCM."
Part of that comfort level has to do with Loch's father, who works at UCM.
Loch will major in athletic training and hopes to someday become a trainer for a professional soccer team.
Before attending UCM, she will have a chance to extend her high school career next week as district play begins Tuesday at Rock Bridge. The Kewpies, whose record stands at 7-12-1, will open up district play against Sedalia Smith Cotton at 5 p.m.
Gragnani said that he knows Loch will be successful in college, both as a soccer player and a student. However, on this particular night, Gragnani reflected on Loch's four years with the Kewpies.
"She has really bought into what this program has been preaching," Gragnani said. "She has a very positive attitude and a very hard work ethic."
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