The memories of Hickman’s 2002 and 2003 sectional soccer losses linger.
Junior Megan McCabe described them as horrible and disappointing.
Senior Ashley Turner said they were intense and exhausting.
Senior Jodi Bolerjack called them heartbreakers.
Monday before practice, those memories gave way to more pleasant ones as the Kewpies shared laughs and signed one another’s 2004 yearbooks.
Hickman hopes to record more good memories at 7 p.m. today when it faces Fort Zumwalt West in a Class 2 sectional in Jefferson City at 179 Soccer Park.
The sectional winner advances to the state quarterfinals at 1 p.m. Saturday in Waynesville at Tiger Sports Complex.
Hickman earned its third straight trip to the sectional with a 1-0 district championship win against Rock Bridge on Wednesday in Sedalia.
The Jaguars (20-4-1) advanced to the sectional with a 1-0 win against Fort Zumwalt South.
In last year’s sectional, Incarnate Word beat Hickman 2-0, and the Kewpies lost to Rockwood Summit 2-1 on penalty kicks in 2002.
“We’re hoping for a better outcome this year,” Bolerjack said.
The Kewpies (18-3-1) return several players from those teams and coach Sandy Paulsen said that experience is crucial.
“The other two teams seemed to have a lot more younger kids starting for me,” Paulsen said. “This year all of those kids are older.
“It helps them focus a little more on playing the game and not all the hoopla around the game.”
Paulsen said Alyssa Mautz, Fort Zumwalt West’s freshman forward who has scored 46 goals, is her biggest concern.
The Jaguars have scored 100 goals and allowed 17.
“They’ve scored a lot of goals,” Paulsen said. “We just need to play the same defense that we’ve been playing the rest of the year.”
Hickman also has a potent offensive attack and forwards McCabe and Bolerjack stressed the need to make good passes and keep the defense off-balance.
“I think this year we move the ball around better; nobody tends to hold it, we take one or two touches and we get rid of
it,” Bolerjack said. “It makes the other team have to run and chase, and I think that really hurts the other team.”
Bolerjack also emphasized the need to finish.
“We’ve struggled with (finishing) this year and I think if we can put a few away early that would be nice,” Bolerjack said.
Paulsen, who is finishing her 16th and final year of coaching at Hickman, said she appreciates the camaraderie the team has developed.
The highest the Kewpies finished during Paulsen’s tenure was third in 1994.
“They’ve gelled as a team and they’ve realized that everybody has contributed to what we have done, it’s not just one person here or there,” Paulsen said. “It makes a big difference.”
The players also notice this difference.
Bolerjack said they know one another’s tendencies and where to find teammates on the field.
“We’ve got stars on our team but it’s not like they try and be the only person on the team,” McCabe said. “We just play well together and are like a big family.
“I think we have the best opportunity to make it to state this year out of any other year, I mean everybody really wants it this year. We’ve never been past sectionals since my freshman year, so that’s something that we are really looking forward to … going past sectionals and getting to quarterfinals.”