As the players walked back onto the field for overtime Monday, something changed.
Rock Bridge and Hickman played 80 minutes of average soccer to tie at 1. The game at Rock Bridge started a half-hour late and the weather was never warmer than 40 degrees. Somebody had to do something, people needed to get home.
It turned out to be a group of Hickman students.
Sitting atop the bleachers with most wearing letterman jackets, the group of no more than 15 students began to cheer. Soon, the Rock Bridge cheerleaders began their own cheer. Before they completed it, the Hickman fans were back, singing traditional soccer chants louder than before.
“It’s cold, there’s a lot of us out here,” senior exchange student Patrick Weightman from Australia said. “Anything to get these guys across the line. Rock Bridge beat us so badly in football, we’ve just got to come out and cheer and give it your all at the end.”
The energy from the Hickman students carried to the other Kewpies fans who joined them standing up. When Hickman junior Evan Camden nearly scored in the second overtime, even Jon Logan, the off-duty police officer working security, became excited. Logan, who said he didn’t know much about soccer, intently leaned forward as Camden dribbled and let out a groan when the shot went wide.
The Hickman students and a handful of other fans remained standing for both 10-minute overtime periods, with the Hickman fans and the Rock Bridge cheerleaders battling for the loudest cheers.
“That’s a lot of support from our school and we appreciate that very much,” Hickman senior forward Blaise Parker said. “We need more of that for districts.”
The game ended tied at 1, but Rock Bridge coach Kirby Keth said a hard fought, double-overtime tie was a fitting way for the game to end.
“We were playing to win it,” Keth said. “But when you play a game like this with nothing at stake, it’s really not a bad way to end the year with crosstown rivals.”
The second Hickman-Rock Bridge contest isn’t a district game, so the result doesn’t affect the seeding for the district tournament. Rock Bridge won the first game 3-1. The second game often turns into an experimental session for the coaches to try out new formations or put players at other positions. Senior Brandon Wulff, a defender that Keth let play more offensively, scored the Rock Bridge goal. Camden scored the Hickman goal. Both teams played backup goalies.
Even though the best players weren’t always playing, both teams badly wanted to win. Rock Bridge senior Aaron Swaney said he was frustrated with the tie.
“I think if we had gone to the ball and had a little bit more of the intensity that they had, we probably would have come out on top,” Swaney said.
Hickman has one game and Rock Bridge two to finalize lineups before the Class 3 District 10 tournament, including home matches at 6:30 tonight.
Second seed Rock Bridge has a first-round bye in the tournament while fourth seed Hickman opens against fifth-seed Smith-Cotton. If Hickman and Rock Bridge are to play each other again, it will be in the championship game. After Monday’s game, players from both teams were confident their team would win if they meet at districts.