COLUMBIA — If he is not listening to music on his Beats by Dr. Dre headphones or challenging his teammates to a video game of FIFA soccer, then he is most likely making saves for the Kewpies.
Adrian Laikert is the starting goalkeeper for the Hickman boys soccer team. Although Laikert is no stranger to soccer, having played the previous three years, this is his first time playing goalkeeper for Hickman.
Hickman (6-10-2) vs. Mehlville
WHEN: 5 p.m.
WHERE: Bruins Shootout at Cosmopolitan Park
A year ago as a junior, Laikert was playing defense on the junior varsity team. Hickman had four keepers spread among the varsity and junior varsity rosters. But of those four, three were graduating seniors.
There was also Stephen Sherer, a sophomore at the time playing goalkeeper on the junior varsity squad. Laikert and Sherer both played for the MAC soccer club team in Columbia after the high school season ended and Laikert backed up Sherer in goal.
“He ended up tearing his labrum in his shoulder. So for the last few weeks, I was the starting keeper,” Laikert said. “Once Hickman rolled around, I decided to challenge him for that spot.”
Over the summer, Sherer and his family moved to Mississippi, which opened the door for Laikert to become this season's starting varsity goalkeeper.
Laikert has started every game for Hickman this season, and the young Kewpies have relied on him to keep them in games. Laikert said he is trying to learn on the run this season by relying on lessons he has learned in previous games.
“A lot of goalkeeping is seeing the play over and over again in a game-like scenario,” said Wil Ross, a Hickman assistant coach.
Ross coaches a lower level squad but works with the varsity goalkeepers. Laikert said he met with Ross three to four times per week in the summer to work on improving his goalkeeping play.
“You can throw him in a drill, and I can kick soccer balls at him all day, and he’ll be fine, but it is completely different when you got a guy coming 100 miles per hour at you and he doesn’t have your best interests in mind,” Ross said.
Ross added that even though Laikert might not think he has progressed, Ross can definitely see a change in the way Laikert handles himself, especially the way he directs his teammates, which Ross attributes to more confidence.
“If you don’t feel comfortable, it is hard to tell people what to do, but the more he learns, the more you can hear him barking out orders,” Ross said. “You can hear him a mile away.”
Laikert is not the only one who has progressed. The Kewpies, who started 0-4-2, had a stretch where they won four of five games. In three of those games, Laikert had a shutout. He also held an opponent to one goal in 2-1 victory and made enough saves for the team to be victorious in a penalty kick shootout.
Laikert has the ability to change his demeanor depending on the situation and said that he will clown around until the Kewpies get on the field, when he gets down to business.
After his first shutout, a 10-0 victory against East Kansas City on Sept. 18, Laikert was more excited to talk about the hip-hop concert he was planning on going to that night.
“I did it all for Odd Future,” said Laikert of the victory. “They have a concert tonight at the Blue Note in a couple of hours so our goal was to get in and get out as quick as possible but not be bad about it, as we wanted to play a good game.”
Hickman coach Adam Taylor said that Laikert played his best game of the season in a 3-1 loss to rival Rock Bridge on Sept 26. Last season, Hickman was outscored 7-0 in its two meetings with Rock Bridge.
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