Twice felt nice Tuesday night for Hickman’s soccer team.
The Kewpies (10-12-3) defeated Smith-Cotton 5-1 at Cosmopolitan Park in a rematch of a 1-0 Kewpie victory on Sept. 7.
Tuesday night’s victory, in the opening round of the Class 3, District 10 tournament, snapped a five-game losing streak and propelled the Kewpies into a second-round matchup with Helias tonight at 7 at Cosmopolitan Park.
Kewpie coach Jon Strodtman said that games heading into districts are usually low-scoring, one-goal games. The Kewpies were set to play Monday, but rain forced a delay.
The Kewpies’ offense had been sputtering, failing to score in the past three games. Their five goals against Smith-Cotton were one less than they have scored in their last 10 games.
The offense’s futility ended when senior forward Jay Johnson scored 14 minutes in off a Jake Viers cross that had deflected in the box and found Johnson open from about 8 yards out.
Although Johnson has been one of the most consistent scorers for the Kewpies this season, a knee injury last week in practice left his effectiveness in question.
Johnson said he wasn’t sure if he would have been able to play if the game hadn’t been postponed. “The extra day helped out a lot,” Johnson said. “I wasn’t 100 percent but I am getting back up there.”
The Kewpies weren’t complacent after the early goal and played with increased intensity for the rest of the game.
As a result of sustained ball control from quick one-touch passes and crosses, the Kewpies put the Tigers on the defensive.
Hickman failed to convert on breakaway opportunities that left Michael Washington and Johnson one-on-one with Smith-Cotton keeper Dustin Southard in the 25th and 29th minutes. The Kewpies’ persistence resulted in a second goal when Washington deposited Joe Schaeperkoetter’s cross in the back of the net. Although Washington acknowledged that the goal, which bounced off his abdomen, wasn’t one of his best, he was happy to help break the Kewpies’ losing streak.
“I was talking to my dad before the game, and I told him that I haven’t scored since the Homecoming game against Cape Girardeau,” Washington said. “He said, ‘Work hard and you’re going to get a goal.’ So I was trying my hardest to get one in and I am glad I did.”
Coming out of halftime with a 2-0 lead, the Kewpies didn’t let the Tigers back in the game.
The Kewpies scored in the 44th and 47th minutes on goals by Blaise Parker and Lucas Blount.
In the aftermath of the Kewpies’ back-to-back goals, the Tigers capitalized on what Hickman keeper Drew Huckla described as a “lack of focus.”
After the Kewpies took a four-goal lead, the bench emptied and the reserves came in.
Strodtman was pleased his starters had an opportunity to rest before tonight’s semifinal game, and he was able to reward players who haven’t seen much action.
“It’s nice to have some fresh legs to go in and rest your other guys, and it’s nice to get kids that don’t get any playing time in a district game,” Strodtman said.
Jordan Cox added the final goal in the 61st minute after his free kick and subsequent shot were blocked. Cox scored on his third attempt.