The Hickman girls’ soccer team is usually exhausted and relieved when practice is over. The girls slowly pull off their knee-high socks, gather their bags and head toward home, looking forward to warm meals and relaxation.
Tuesday afternoon however, as the girls trickled off the field, there was a little more pep in their step.
Of course, they didn’t have very far to go.
The team gathered in the concession area outside the gym for a pre-game lasagna dinner prepared by the players’ parents. After tossing their soccer bags in the hall outside the bathrooms, the Kewpies, paper plates in hand, waited in line at the edge of a long gray folding table loaded with food. Slowly, the girls moved down the table and around the window sills of the concession stand, filling their plates with pasta, bread, fruit and brownies. They sat at long tables and talked, not of soccer, but of friends, boyfriends and food.
The girls hold these traditional pasta parties before important home games. Tuesday’s pasta party celebrated another highly anticipated Hickman tradition: tonight’s game against Rock Bridge at Walton Stadium.
The teams met earlier this season in a tournament game that ended 2-2. Senior Kendall Foss said the Kewpies are looking to break that tie.
“We tied them in the Sedalia tournament,” she said. “So now we have to prove that we can win.”
Hickman has defeated Rock Bridge in all but one game in regular and postseason play for the past three years.
Rock Bridge beat Hickman 1-0 in the 2005 Smith-Cotton tournament. In last year’s regular season matchup, Hickman senior Kelsey McClure scored a goal in the first fifteen seconds of the game. The Kewpies went on to win the game 3-0.
Hickman goalie senior Bess Frissell-Durley said another early goal would help spark the momentum for the rest of the game.
Will it be from McClure?
“I hope so,” she said. “I would say most likely not though because they’ll be looking out for that.”
“It’s all about who wants it more. Obviously, if your team won the year before, you want to continue that tradition.”
Many of the Hickman and Rock Bridge athletes play together on teams such as Carrera Soccer Club.
Foss said that though she knows many of the Bruins, the camaraderie won’t affect her performance during the game.
“They won’t quite be our friends on the field,” she said. “Afterwards, maybe.”
McClure said the rivalry will help motivate the Kewpies.
“We never like to lose to Rock Bridge,” she said. “And we get bragging rights if we win.”
Rock Bridge brings a five-game win streak to tonight’s game. Hickman is 2-1-2 in its last five games, including a 2-2 tie against Ursuline Academy. Ursuline was recently voted No. 5 in the state by the Missouri State High School Soccer Coaches Association. Hickman ranks 13 in the poll.
The game will help determine the teams’ ranking going into districts.
“If we do anything other than win, we won’t be top seed. But I’m trying not to think about it too much,” McClure said. “If you get to thinking too much and start thinking about how it should be, then during the game you get frustrated if it doesn’t happen that way and you don’t play as well.”
Frissell-Durley said the game is especially important for the seniors.
“It’s our last year. I wanna go out beating Rock Bridge,” she said. “I just don’t want to have any regrets. I don’t want to look back and say, ‘We could have done this...’”
Foss said if Hickman plays the way it’s able to, regret won’t be an issue.
“I’m pumped. Bring it on,” she said. “But leave it all on the field.”