COLUMBIA — The Rock Bridge boys soccer team ended its regular season Wednesday. The Bruins will now enter postseason play in the Class 3 District 9 tournament after finishing 17-7-1 on the season.
The team is hoping its senior striker, Ryan Stanowski will guide them to district and state titles. Stanowski is one of three senior captains on the Bruins roster along with midfielder Eli Sherman and defender Jordan Reiske.
“It means a lot to me,” Stanowski said. “I looked up to previous captains while growing up through this program. It's kind of an honor to be a captain of a Rock Bridge soccer team these days."
Stanowski said that he and his teammates had depended on the leadership of last year's captain, Matt Kelly. Kelly, another standout striker, amassed several individual honors last year: Class 3 offensive player of the year, first-team honors on the all-state team and a nomination for Gatorade Player of the Year in boys soccer for Missouri.
While Kelly was the focal point of last year's Bruin offense, this year’s team is different. Stanowski likes to think this year's program is more focused on the collective team, than on any one individual.
“Really everyone on the team collaborates together so it is not just that the captains are the leaders,” Stanowski said. “Everyone on the team leads.”
He said that the best thing about this year’s squad is its attitude.
“We all have fun no mater where we're at.” Stanowski said. “Whether it’s on the bus, hotel room, on the field, or off it, we are always joking around with each other and it’s just a great atmosphere.”
Despite this fun atmosphere, Stanowski’s best attribute may be his ability to flip the competitive switch.
“Whenever we are messing around he makes us more serious and focused before the game,” junior goalkeeper Greg Kelly said. “I think he'll be missed next year.”
While freshman Tarnue Tyler leads the Bruins in goals, Rock Bridge coach Alex Nichols said that Stanowski’s leadership and aggressive play are what separate him from the rest of the squad.
“I have had the opportunity to work with him for three years now, and he's been great," Nichols said. “His objective is to make himself as dangerous as possible. Just keep making yourself dangerous and keep bringing dangerous opportunities for our team, that is his job.”
Stanowski’s aggressive style has also allowed him to pursue soccer at the next level. He has not decided where he will attend school next year, but mentioned a list of schools where he could play soccer, which included: Hendrix College, Dominican University, Drury University, Columbia College and Rockhurst University.