COLUMBIA — There are 30 days in April. The Rock Bridge girls soccer team will play up to 15 games in that span.
The Bruins won the first of those matches Wednesday evening, prevailing 1-0 against Helias High School at Rock Bridge.
The Crusaders had most of the scoring chances in the first half, but Rock Bridge junior goalie Madison Boyken turned aside each shot on net.
In the 54th minute, the Bruins finally countered. Junior midfielder Laurie Frew passed to sophomore Katie Cook who blasted a shot past Helias goalkeeper Liz Czarnecki and into the net.
With such a busy month ahead, a good start was imperative.
“The last game didn’t end how we hoped, so it’s good to get games like this where we finished it and played the way we know we could play,” senior co-captain Morgan Bumby said.
The hectic April schedule — the Bruins will play at least 12 games and up to 15, depending on their performances in a pair of tournaments — is nothing new to the upperclassmen on the roster; players whom by now are used to having a busy schedule and more games than they have practices.
“It’s demanding, but it’s a lot of fun, and it’s good to see all those opponents because it makes us more prepared for the postseason,” Bumby said.
Coach Jack Rubenstein's preseason conditioning and strength program has prepared the team well for its crowded April schedule.
“It’s really important (to get in shape) before the season starts because if you’re not in shape this is really hard to do,” Bumby said.
Their hard work in the preseason paid off Wednesday night.
“It’s actually when it’s games like this where it really shows the hard work,” Bumby said. “It helped push through, and especially with a team like that, they’re really fit.”
With his team playing so many games this month, Rubenstein knows he has to carefully manage practice time to keep the girls fresh. Practice sessions will provide the girls a chance to recover rather than further tax them.
“We don’t want to run them into the ground anymore than is already happening,” Rubenstein said.
Light practices or not, the daily grind of the season inevitably takes a toll on the players.
“I get really sore and exhausted and am ready to sleep all the time,” Bumby said.
But the girls knew what they signed up for.
“These are our friends. We enjoy being around each other,” senior co-captain Kate Hulen said. “Sure, it’s a sacrifice to not hangout with the normal people, or there’s a little less time to do whatever you want, but it’s worth it.”
Rubenstein, who played soccer for four seasons at Westminster College after playing high school soccer at Rock Bridge, remembers facing the challenges posed by a jampacked schedule as a player.
“I wish I could go back and do it over again,” Rubenstein said. “It goes go by quickly. Having as many games as we have, the season seems short as it is, it goes by in the blink of an eye, so hopefully these girls and us coaches can soak it in and enjoy the ride.”