SEDALIA — The opportunities were adding up and so was the tension.
Hickman had numerous chances to score Wednesday in the Class 4 District 10 championship game in Sedalia. The Kewpies hit almost every inch of the goal except for the back of the net.
When the Kewpies finally scored, Hickman coach Sandy Paulsen called it ironic, but as she said, it was a relief and it worked.
Rachel Miedema assisted Amy Bolerjack on an indirect kick in the penalty box as Hickman beat Rock Bridge 1-0 and won its third straight District 10 championship at Susie Ditzfeld Memorial Field.
Hickman (18-3-1) will play in the sectional game against the Fort Zumwalt West/Fort Zumwalt South winner at 7 p.m. Tuesday in Jefferson City.
The Bruins finished 15-8-1.
“Kind of ironic isn’t it?” Paulsen said. “That has been the story we’ve had all year. We’ve had lots of opportunities, just never seemed to get them in. We hit the crossbar, the sidebar and everything else and their goalie played really well, I thought, and we just couldn’t get one in.”
Bolerjack’s goal came in the 56th minute, after Hickman’s Megan McCabe and Rock Bridge’s Emily Crowe got tangled up in front of the goal. Crowe was called for obstruction, setting up the indirect kick.
As the Bruins were busy forming a wall, Miedema had a quick conference with Bolerjack.
“She realized that they weren’t ready and we just took advantage of them not being ready,” Bolerjack said. “So she’s like, ‘I’m going to tap it to you real fast while they’re not looking and shoot it.’ It’s a really sneaky thing to do.”
Bolerjack’s shot sailed over the Bruins’ partially formed wall, out of the reach of goalie Emily Roark.
Paulsen applauded Miedema’s quick thinking.
“That was smart thinking on Rachel’s part, to set it up and send it before they got set,” Paulsen said.
Rock Bridge coach Marc VanDover said his team was waiting for the whistle, but the referee said play instead and the Bruins didn’t hear him.
“It was kind of a random call, I haven’t seen that happen a lot,” Miedema said. “Soccer’s a weird game.
“You’re going to get weird goals. I wish we could have gotten a real one, maybe off a header or on a pass across the goal, but we’ll take it. We played hard so I think we deserve it.”
Before their goal, the Kewpies had numerous close calls.
In the third minute, Jodi Bolerjack had a shot ricochet off the crossbar. In the 24th minute, Miedema took Janelle Cordia’s corner kick and got a clean shot at the backside of the goal, but Rock Bridge defender Ashley Tune was there to deflect the ball back into play. Meredith Scheneman hit the right crossbar in the 36th minute.
Within the first minute of the second half, Rock Bridge defender blocked Shelly Forbis’ shot in front of the goal. Later in the half, Caitlin Keith had a shot bounce off the crossbar.
“The kids played hard the whole game and they deserved to win that game because they played really well,” Paulsen said.
It was the second time Rock Bridge lost to Hickman 1-0.
“For us it was defense again, not intentionally, but we were on our heels,” VanDover said. “Playing one of the best teams in the state, that’s what you’re going to get. I was hoping that we’d get Hickman’s B game, which they had out here the other night, but they brought their A game tonight. They were ready for us.”
Nevertheless, freshman forward Emily Bucko said the Bruins played great defense and kept the speedy Kewpies close.
“They did awesome, we were so pleased with their playing,” Bucko said. “We couldn’t have asked for more from the defense.”
Rock Bridge had two shots on goal and its closest opportunity came in the 16th minute when Bucko found Emily Winter in the right side of the box. Winter’s shot sailed over the goal.
“Whatever kind of team we are, we owe it to our seniors. The leadership that they have given us this year is incredible,” VanDover said.
“That we’ve gotten to the district finals, I’m pleased with that. I’m not pleased with the score, but I am pleased with their effort. We’re here because of them.”