Twenty-six goals scored and none allowed in five games does not seem to call for a change in philosophy.
Two of the forwards who helped the Hickman girls’ soccer team put up these gaudy numbers in its first five games last year are gone, and coach Sandy Paulsen decided a change from a 4-4-2 formation to a 4-5-1 would give this year’s Kewpies a better chance to succeed.
The results have not disappointed so far; Hickman has scored 19 goals, given up three and started 5-0.
The Kewpies will try to move to 6-0 today when they face Raymore Peculiar at 5:30 p.m. at Cosmopolitan Park.
Paulsen said she is pleased with how the experiment has gone so far, but it can be improved.
“It’s a work in progress,” Paulsen said.
Paulsen said several factors caused the formation change.
“The kids that I have coming back is one part of it,” Paulsen said.
Senior forwards Melissa Griggs and Lauren Grice, both of whom play for Missouri, made forward one of the Kewpies’ strong suits last season. This season, midfield is the team’s deepest position, for nine of its members are juniors or seniors.
“We had really good strikers last year and we kept a couple of them, but we were so experienced at center-mid that we figured it might just be more useful to move one back,” senior midfielder Rachel Miedema said.
This emphasis on midfield play has also spread the scoring around.
“I think it just opens it up so that anyone can make a run,” Miedema said.
Midfielder/forward Jodi Bolerjack leads the team with nine goals and nine other players have scored.
“On any given day, anybody has the potential to score,” midfielder Amy Bolerjack said.
Another factor in the switch is that many of the teams Hickman faces, mainly those from St. Louis, are strong in the midfield.
“I thought it would help to have a few more players back there,” Paulsen said.
This proved true April 6 when the Kewpies beat Hazelwood Central 2-0.
Miedema said the new formation has made it more difficult for an opposing player to work toward Hickman’s goal.
“It’s easier to pick them up,” Miedema said.
Amy Bolerjack said the extra midfielder has also helped the team regain possession.
“It’s easier to get the ball back because there’s more people to pass it around to,” Bolerjack said.
Another problem Paulsen said the previous formation presented was it left a large gap between the midfield and the defense when the midfielders moved up to play offense.
“That’s where the other team would camp out,” Paulsen said.
Miedema said the new formation takes care of this problem.
“It kind of gives more layers,” Miedema said.
Paulsen said midfielders must be patient for these layers to be effective.
“Everyone gets excited and wants to move up, but somebody’s got to stay back,” Paulsen said.