Hickman girls soccer peaking at the right time

Friday, April 26, 2013 | 9:13 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — The Hickman girls soccer team is playing with a renewed sense of purpose.

The team’s focus showed in the Kewpies’ (9-4-1) 3-0 shutout of Pembroke Hill (Kansas City) in the first round of the Hickman Soccer Tournament on Friday night.

It also marked the Kewpies’ sixth victory in a row.

After beginning the season with two wins, Hickman lost four out of its next six games. With eight freshmen on the roster, the team experienced the growing pains that come with learning how to play together. This struggle was most evident in the team’s offense, which had stalled. Then they played Fatima on April 12. The Kewpies' 4-0 victory marked the first time all season they had scored multiple goals in a game. 

It was also the beginning of the streak.

“We finally uncorked our offense and we’ve been pouring it on since,” assistant coach Adam Taylor said Friday.

On Friday night, Hickman's confidence showed through its aggression. Two minutes after the game started, freshman midfielder Kelsey Mirts scored. Before the first half was over, the Kewpies got two more goals from another freshman midfielder, Katherine Hammond, and sophomore forward Rebecca Wagner. 

“We’re clicking,” head coach Tony Gragnani said. “We’re still fine-tuning some aspects, but the biggest thing is staying healthy.”

The defense is holding its own, too. Sophomore goalkeeper Emily Miller missed two games in April due to concussion-like symptoms, but she has shut out opponents in four of five games since her return.

“We’re playing the best soccer at the best time,” Taylor said.

The Kewpies' next game will be against Helias at 12 p.m. Saturday in the second round of the six-team tournament.

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