COLUMBIA — The power outage was a welcome reprieve.
The field lights had shut off, leaving the field in darkness. The murmur of the Hickman crowd grew as parents and students debated whether to stay or leave. With the Kewpies (3-3-1) headed to a 2-0 loss against Lindbergh High School, and the scoreboard frozen at 18:24 left in the game, most opted for the latter.
On the field, players on both teams tried to keep their muscles loose during the lull in action. They jogged from sideline to sideline and stretched. Kewpies’ goalie senior Adele Fritz, who replaced sophomore Emily Miller at the beginning of the second half after Miller suffered a concussion while attempting to save a goal, practiced diving for balls with assistant coach Will Ross.
Kewpies head coach Tony Gragnani said this had happened once before during a boys team district playoff game.
Gragnani’s arrival to the game coincided with the power outage. He had missed the first half, and his team had a hard time adjusting to his absence.
“They feel a sense of ownership when they play for" Gragnani, assistant coach Adam Taylor said Friday. “They’re used to his pregame speeches and his coaching style. His not being there definitely had an effect.”
Gragnani wasn’t satisfied with the reasoning, saying that his team has to come out with a sense of urgency regardless of whether he’s on the sideline or not. He said coming out flat has been a consistent problem throughout the team's seven games.
"Lindbergh scored both of their goals within the first three minutes of each half," Gragnani said.
When the lights came back on 20 minutes later and play resumed, the Kewpies played with a new energy. They seemed more aggressive, keeping the ball in Lindbergh's territory and increasing the number of their shots on goal.
“We have a talented group, the players just need more time playing together to gel,” Taylor said. “They need to learn how play with the fire they showed after the power outage from the opening whistle.”
Taylor and Gragnani think this loss will serve as motivation as the team moves forward.
The Kewpies’ next game is against Blue Springs South at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at Hickman.