When a coach says he has his best forwards in 8 years, then three weeks later changes the team’s offensive philosophy, something must be amuck.
That’s what has happened in the past four weeks for the Hickman soccer team. After starting 6-1-3, the Kewpies lost three of their next five games. The problem, they say, is that they weren’t giving their strikers enough help.
“We have been pretty successful, but a few games we failed to score,” wing Kofi Bempah said. “That’s just because we didn’t have enough people up there.”
Until the offensive change last week, the Kewpies were putting too much pressure on the strikers, coach Jon Strodtman said. Not enough players were getting up the field to support the strikers, so often it was Hickman’s two strikers against the opponent’s four defenders.
“I don’t think there is any problem with the offense,” forward Evan Camden said. “I think we’ve been doing fine.”
Much of the emphasis is being placed on the wing midfielders, Bempah and junior David Garman, to become like a third striker on offense.
That is a welcome change for Bempah, who is a striker for the Columbia Pride, his summer team. In the first game with the new system, Oct. 3 at Marshall, Bempah scored four of the team’s eight goals in the shutout victory. Bempah said his new position feels more natural.
“I got to play more of an attacking role, so I just got more looks at goals,” Bempah said.
The weekend wasn’t as successful, as Hickman won a game and lost two in the Quincy Tournament. The Kewpies were outscored 8-3, but Strodtman said the two losses came against schools that would have been hard for Hickman to beat on a perfect day.
The Kewpies don’t have any games until Saturday, when they travel to Springfield for two games. This break gives the players a chance to work on the new offensive scheme and some of the other lingering problems they have faced this season.
“We’re just kind of stuck in the doldrums and the kids have got to figure out what they want to do,” Strodtman said. “The coaching staff, we have pretty much given them everything that we can give them. Now they have to figure out what they want to do with this squad.”
There is still a feeling among the players that they can return to the Class 3 District 10 championship game, but the Kewpies are 2-2 in district play with one game against Helias (16-1-1), remaining in district play.
Camden said he is optimistic the team can come together under the new offensive system and start scoring more goals.
“Hopefully the whole team will pick it up,” Camden said. “It’s a team effort, we just have to go out there as a team and perform.”