Sure there was a trophy involved, but it wasn’t what Hickman midfielder Mike Moesel wanted most.
Moesel, a senior, had his hopes set on a return trip to the state lacrosse playoffs, and a season-ending 13-7 win against Rock Bridge in the Golden Cross match at Rock Bridge on Friday left him unsatisfied.
It was Hickman’s second straight Golden Cross win.
Lacrosse coaches from around the state select playoff teams based on strength of schedule and record. Strength of schedule was the Kewpies’ downfall.
“You know, I can’t come back to the state playoffs enough, but for what we have this was the best we could do,” Moesel said. “For what it’s worth, we had a great year, regardless of whether or not we got in. We can be proud of that and we finished it here tonight.”
The Kewpies (12-4) jumped out to a 5-0 first-quarter lead and outhustled and outpassed the Bruins (9-5) throughout the first half and most of the game.
Attacker Kieren Drapeau scored the second of his four goals midway through the second quarter to give the Kewpies a 7-0 lead.
Although Rock Bridge rallied with three straight goals, Drapeau scored his third goal and Andrew Mackley added another to give the Kewpies a 9-3 lead at halftime.
“We kind of came out flat-footed,” Rock Bridge coach Ben Smith said. “I think we got too hyped up about the game and made the guys stop thinking about just playing lacrosse. They were too worried about the fans here and everything else going on.”
After Hickman increased its lead to 11-3 early in the third quarter, Rock Bridge finally woke up.
The Bruins went a man-up after Mackley was called for unsportsmanlike conduct, and they scored three goals in less than a minute to trim the lead to 11-6.
Blake Schleider assisted Kyle Blaeuer on the first goal and Peter Hoegfeldt assisted Blaeuer for the second. Schleider scored the third unassisted.
During halftime, Smith said he told his team to forget about Hickman, the fans, the Golden Cross and execute.
“They did it and Hickman just answered back,” Smith said. “We were too far in the hole to get back up there.”
Hickman goalie Kendell Gessling made it tough for the Bruins. He had five big saves in the fourth quarter and teammates Zack Niken and J.J. Bennett added insurance goals.
Niken finished with three goals, and Rock Bridge’s Blaeuer had four.
“Our guys really took their play up a level,” Hickman coach Jamie Mullen said. “They were excited to be here. We hadn’t played for about three weeks, so we were just anxious to get out there and there was a lot of that energy coming out.”
Smith said the Bruins’ mental lapses were a seasonlong problem.
“Sometimes what you do in practice doesn’t always translate onto the field and it’s disappointing,” Smith said. “But it’s something you can improve on because it’s not skill that they’re lacking, it’s just a mental aspect of the game that they are lacking.”
After the game, Moesel received word that he was named to the All-State team.
“He had a tremendous year,” Mullen said. “He won about 90 percent of his face-offs and it’s rare that a guy west of St. Louis is recognized as highly as him. To be the third highest vote getter really says something about him. He was an incredible player.”
Drapeau said Moesel brought heart to the team.
“He puts every inch of effort, every last drop of his body into this team,” Drapeau said. “He’ll come off the field and completely collapse and then go do it all over again.”