Having a top-ranked goalie is a good thing. Having two top-ranked goalies is almost unheard of.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch ranks Hickman seniors Kendall Gessling and Brad Thompson among the state’s elite. They have allowed 73 goals. Hickman (12-3) has scored 189.
The Kewpies are hoping strength in the crease will translate into success when they travel to Rock Bridge to play the Bruins at 5:30 p.m. today in the Golden Cross match.
“We’re just riding momentum right now,” Gessling said. “So much of playing goalie is attitude. When you’re in a good mood, you just play better. The individual honors just put me in a better mood.”
Gessling is ranked first in Missouri in goals-against-average with 4.11.
He had a shutout against Blue Valley North on May 1 when Hickman won 20-0. He is one of seven Missouri goalies with a shutout.
“The shutout was a nice thing to get as a goalie,” Gessling said. “It looks good for me, but the real credit should go to the defense. They’ve matured a lot this year and they really played hard for me that day.”
Gessling has matured along with the Kewpies, developing into Hickman’s most reliable goalie the past three years. He said his growth in the goal came from humble beginnings.
“I started out playing attack, but one day (former) coach (Kyle) Hawkins said we needed a new goalie,” Gessling said. “He had us all get in a circle and do reflex drills. I did well so he said, ‘Guess what, you’re the new goalie.’ I was playing a game in the crease two days later.”
Gessling’s achievements are even more impressive considering he has been splitting time with Thompson, often playing half a game.
“It’s especially tough for a goalie to only play half a game,” goalie coach Eddie Hedrick said. “You don’t get the benefit of seeing the angle the ball is coming off the sticks in the first half. You don’t get as much experience. These guys have to learn on the fly and they are both playing very well in spite of it.”
Thompson is ranked 11th in Missouri, allowing six goals per game.
“I know if I’m ever having an off day Brad’s always ready to step in and play well,” Gessling said. “That’s just the kind of guy he is.”
Hickman coach Jamie Mullen said Gessling and Thompson bring more to the team than impressive statistics.
“Both Kendall and Brad are outstanding goalies and outstanding leaders on the field,” Mullen said. “I play them both because I think they both bring important things to the team and they both play very well.”
Mullen stressed Gessling and Thompson weren’t competing for playing time.
“They are great friends on the field and off of it,” Mullen said. “They have great attitudes and they root for each other.”