Great unity enabled Hickman to get this far.
The Hickman girls’ soccer team plays Ursuline Academy today at 6 p.m. in the semifinals of the Class 2 state championships at Anheuser-Busch Sports Center in Fenton. It is the first time the Kewpies (20-3-1) have played in the semifinals since 1994.
If the Kewpies win, they play the Incarnate Word Academy-Blue Springs winner in the final at 2 p.m. Saturday.
Coach Sandy Paulsen said great teamwork is one of the major reasons for the Kewpies’ success.
“The strongest point of our team is they are like family,” Paulsen said. “And, they have been my family at Hickman, too.”
Paulsen will retire after the season, her 16th at Hickman.
Paulsen said today’s match will be physical, and Ursuline Academy (17-2-3) has great speed and ball skills. The Bears defeated Nerinx Hall 2-1 in the quarterfinals.
She said the Kewpies are used to physical games.
“It will be a tough game,” Paulsen said. “But, I’m confident in our ability, and, we are going to compete as hard as we can.”
Paulsen said the team might emphasize side attacks because the Bears have strong center-midfield play. Senior Jodi Bolerjack said Paulsen also told the team the Bears have good forwards, and the Kewpies need to contain them to win.
Paulsen said Hickman has worked well with 4-5-1 formation. The Kewpies have scored eight goals, and their flat four defense has allowed one goal in the past two games. In the flat four defense, four backs line up horizontally and basically play zone defense. Paulsen said the formation also gives a lot of options for offense.
Paulsen also said the Kewpies’ ability to make good passes in the midfield and reverse the ball to defenders to prevent losing possession are major reasons they could advance to the final.
Bolerjack, who scored twice in the quarterfinal win against Glendale, said the Kewpies are confident.
“I think, if we keep playing like we have, we can beat them.” Bolerjack said.
She also said passing to feet and winning the fifty-fifty balls are also keys in the game.
Midfielder Kelly Olmstead said she thinks the Kewpies are ready for the game.
“Everybody is determined.” Olmstead said. “I think we have the great chance going to the final.”