FENTON – Coach Sandy Paulsen couldn’t hold back her tears after the game Saturday.
It wasn’t because the Hickman girls’ soccer team lost to Blue Springs 3-2 in the third-place match of the Class 2 state championships at Anheuser-Busch Center.
It was because it was the last game for Paulsen, who coached Hickman for 16 years. She hugged each player after the game.
“You know, there is the mixed emotions there,” Paulsen said. “It’s difficult as it is to cut the ties (with players). It’s hard to say goodbye.
“On the other hand, I’m tired and I’m old and I am ready for the rest.”
Senior Amy Bolerjack said, “I wish we could win for her. That would have been nice.”
The game featured five goals in about seven minutes in the second half; Blue Springs’ Erica Greco scored the winning goal and set up another.
At 55:50, the Wildcats’ Lauren Kurelac crossed from deep on the right side and Greco pushed the ball into the goal with her chest for the winning goal.
Hickman had tied the game when freshman Caitlin Keith scored after Janelle Cordia’s corner kick. That came 52 seconds after Lauren Pouche scored her second goal on Jessica Bush’s assist to give the Wildcats a 2-1 lead at 52:01.
At 48:12, the Wildcats (21-2-1) opened the scoring when Pouche sent the ball above Hickman goalkeeper Bess Frissell after Greco passed from center midfield.
The Kewpies responded two minutes later with Bolerjack’s header on Cordia’s corner kick.
Despite creating chances, the Kewpies (20-5-1) couldn’t score any more.
“It was kind of frustrating,” Cordia said. “But, I think we played well.”
The Kewpies had to get over Friday’s 2-1 semifinal loss to Ursuline Academy (18-3-3). Paulsen said after that loss it would be difficult to have motivation for Saturday’s game. She said her team’s effort against Blue Springs was impressive.
“They could have given up, but they didn’t,” Paulsen said. “That is the kind of kids they are, and I am really proud of them.”
In the semifinals, the Kewpies allowed the Bears’ Julia Bradenberg to score twice in the second half. Ashley Turner scoredHickman’s only goal.
Incarnate Word Academy (25-4-2) defeated Ursuline Academy 2-1 to win the state title.