The lights on the Hickman football field were bright. The smells of grilled burgers and hot dogs wafted through the muggy, late-autumn air. A large crowd roared with every pass, run and strong defensive play. But, this wasn’t a Friday night Hickman home football game.
This was Senior Night for the Hickman boys’ soccer team.
Normally, the team plays its home games at Cosmopolitan Park. Tonight, however, the team played in front of parents and students alike, in front of a real “home” crowd for the first and only time this season.
The Kewpies (6-2-2) gave the home crowd something to cheer about with a 3-0 victory over the visiting Marshall Owls (6-9).
As they have all year long, the Kewpies’ win featured balanced efforts both offensively and defensively. And seniors led the way.
Seniors Jordan Cox, John Geyer, Eric Miedma and Alex Wegener helped the Kewps dominate possession throughout the game, peppering the Owls’ goalie with shot after shot.
Wegener knocked in the final tally on a ball that bounced three times in front of the net before he tapped it in.
“It was a lot of fun,” he said. “It was the first time we played here as seniors, so it was a new experience. We’re used to neutral territory as Cosmo Park, but here it feels like home.”
Even little-used senior Yigit (Yeet) Kusakoglu got into the act. The senior, a native of Turkey, didn’t get to start, much to the chagrin of coach John Strodtman. He still almost managed to score.
“We have more seniors than starting positions, which is unfortunate,” Strodtman said. “Yeet got to play up front and almost got a goal up there, which was great. It was just a great game for everyone.”
Meanwhile, for returning All-District senior defenders Gabe Widmer and Omeed Latifi, it was a relatively quiet night, as Marshall managed only a few shots at the Hickman goal.
Strodtman said he was proud of his seniors, who he feels help give the team its identity as a scrappy, maximum-effort group that plays hard the entire game.
“Our seniors work really hard,” he said. “Our touch wasn’t always there tonight, but heart is 90 percent of the game, and our seniors have incredible heart.”
Strodtman sees a difference in this year’s Kewpies, a team with a markedly different record and attitude, determined to improve on last year’s mediocre season.
“Well, last year was a disappointment,” he said. “It seemed like the kids didn’t have much of a drive to score, to win. This year the kids have the drive, they want to win and these guys have an incredible desire to succeed.”
Wegener believes this win gives the team some momentum heading down to Cape Girardeau this weekend, and for district play, which begins in less than a month.
“It’s a morale booster,” he said. “We’ve played well against some great teams, and I think we feel like we’ll be ready once districts begin.”