When Rock Bridge boys’ soccer fans watched the Bruins play the last couple of weeks, they might not have recognized every player on the field.
The Bruins have been battling some sprains, strains and pulls while trying to survive the early part of their schedule. They hope to return all of their players by the time the Catholic Youth Council tournament begins Monday in St. Louis. The stacked field features several top-flight teams from the St. Louis area, including top-ranked Christian Brothers College.
Among the key injured players are senior defender and captain Josh McNutt and senior midfielder Matt Spainhour. Spainhour is coming off a pulled quadriceps muscle, but expects to return for this weekend’s Parkway Tournament in St. Louis.
“It’s a little sore,” he said, “but I’ve got some experience from last year, so it won’t be too difficult to get back into it.”
Josh McNutt, sidelined by a pulled hamstring during Saturday’s 4-1 victory against St. Charles West, said his hamstring is feeling better and he hopes to be back for Monday’s CYC tournament opener.
McNutt tried to stay positive about his team’s injuries.
“It’s important for this team to stay healthy,” he said. “But if we had to have injuries, it’s better that we have them now than around district- and state-tournament time.”
To compensate for the losses, Bruins coach Kirby Keth has had to do some position-juggling, and has brought up players from the junior varsity squad as well.
Keth admits that the injuries have hurt his young team’s chemistry.
“The injuries have slowed us up with the starters and their roles, but at the same time, it’s allowed other players to step up in support roles,” he said. “The injuries have allowed us to play more people, increase our depth and versatility, and develop a better team environment. To have that depth when you need it is a real positive sign of a quality team.”
With three tournaments in the next two weeks, Keth knows that depth will be critical to his team’s success.
“As tough as these next couple weeks are going to be, you’ve gotta have the depth to play a long weekend of soccer,” he said, noting that injuries are to be anticipated.
The Rock Bridge team will come out of this two-week stretch with more than half the season concluded. The Bruins hope to parlay their recent success into these next two weeks and beyond. They enter this weekend on a four-game winning streak.