In its last game before the district tournament, the Hickman girls soccer team defeated Sedalia 1-0. The goal came early in the second half, when junior Liz Gayer violently headed an Edith Lopez corner kick into the net.
Come tournament time, however, the Kewpies (7-10-1) are going to have to rely on their freshmen to carry them to victory.
Despite having a roster loaded with juniors and seniors, Hickman coach Jon Strodtman calls on freshman midfielders Maggie Pace and Morgan Pitchford, along with forward Katie LaRue to start and finish games for the Kewpies.
“It’s been working fine,” Strodtman said of playing the freshmen, adding that the trio’s ability to attack the ball makes them dangerous on the field, especially when goals for the Kewpies this season have been lacking.
“They’re quick and aggressive, so it worked out really well,” Strodtman said. “We had the openings, and luckily we got a couple of quality freshmen to jump in.”
While Pitchford and Pace have been starting for the majority of the season, LaRue was a midseason call-up from the junior varsity and hasn’t disappointed her coach. Her aggressive play and ability to get off shots in tight spaces earned her three goals in the past seven games. LaRue said she is surprised with the amount of playing time the freshmen have received.
“I didn’t think, since there are a lot of girls older then us, we would start,” LaRue said.
The three flow well together on the field and seem to intuitively know the position of their freshman teammates. LaRue said their ability to mesh stems from knowing each other well.
“I played club soccer with Maggie,” LaRue said, “and I know Morgan really well.”
Now adjusted to varsity, the three freshmen are optimistic about the district tournament.
“I think we have a good shot,” LaRue said. “Most of the games have been like 1-0, so anybody really has a chance.”
The Class 2, District 10 tournament begins Saturday at Helias.