Hickman’s Drew Huckla, at 5 feet, 10 inches and 190 pounds, looks more like a football team’s fullback than a soccer team’s goalkeeper.
Opposing strikers are finding out that Huckla brings the physicality of football to a sport known more for finesse and touch.
Huckla protects the goal box like a guard dog does a front porch, charging at anyone who comes near.
In a 1-0 win against Glendale on Oct. 9, Huckla ran out and upended Glendale striker Danny Collins on a breakaway in the game’s final minute, preserving the victory.
After the game, Kewpies coach Jon Strodtman said he was impressed but not surprised with Huckla’s play.
“It takes a special kid to come out like that, I think he really enjoys taking the ball off of people’s feet,” Strodtman said. “He’s done it several times. It takes some guts to come out like that.”
No. 3 seed Hickman (9-12-3) plays No. 6 Smith-Cotton at 5:30 p.m. today at Cosmopolitan Park in the opening round of the District 10 tournament. The game is a rematch of a 1-0 Hickman victory on Sept. 7.
Strodtman said that Huckla, a senior, has done a great job at protecting the goal box.
“A keeper has to let people know that it’s his box, and you don’t come into my box,” Strodtman said.
“He’s probably the best we’ve had here in years and years.”
Huckla has held opposing teams scoreless in eight games this season, resulting in seven of the Kewpies’ nine wins.
Although Huckla experimented with playing football when he was 13, he returned to soccer and said he realized it was his sport and goalkeeper was his position.
“Scoring goals is fun and every once in a while I would like to play forward, but I would rather stay back as a goalie because it’s more fun,” Huckla said. “You get to use your hands and you rarely get called for anything. You get to do what you want.”
His aggressive nature in the box is a style of play that dates back to when he first started playing the position at age 8.
“I’ve always played aggressively because I always figured that if I am bigger than the guys and that if you go at the ball harder than they do that they’re the ones that are likely to get hurt.”
Huckla said that his size is not only important for absorbing the contact he takes during games, but that it also can intimidate opponents on the verge of scoring.
“Being big definitely helps as a goalie at least,” Huckla said. “Strikers are nervous once they get up to the goal and try to score, so if you make yourself bigger and more intimidating it makes it harder on the striker to score.”
Huckla’s play could go a long way in determining how far the Kewpies advance in districts.
The games are usually close and ties can come down to a penalty kick shootout, Strodtman said.
“There are a couple good keepers in our districts and it very well could be a keeper’s game,” Strodtman said.