Rock Bridge kicked off the high school soccer season in Columbia with two wins and a scoreless draw at its preseason jamboree Friday night at Rock Bridge High School.
The Bruins were led by stellar defense that kept a clean sheet in all three of the 25-minute scrimmages. They started the night with a 0-0 draw against Helias.
Rock Bridge’s first chance came around 13 minutes in after a diagonal ball flew over the Helias defense to junior Jeremiah Johnson, who lofted a header over the goalkeeper that landed inches wide of the goal.
Despite winning time of possession, Rock Bridge couldn’t break through and was unable to get on the board in the first match.
Junior Lucas Godon had one last chance for the Bruins with 2:45 left, but his shot from just inside the box sailed into the side netting, leaving the Bruins with a scoreless draw to start the night.
“We were getting chances, we just weren’t scoring them,” head coach Scott Wittenborn said. “We probably had five good chances and our defense played well. I thought all-in-all we were fine.”
The Bruins went up against Marshall next, and won 3-0 behind a hat-trick from senior Karsen Schweikert.
Schweikert started the night at center back due to a glute strain to senior starter Will Linder and then switched to striker. Once he was moved up top, Schweikert put the Bruins on the board halfway through the second match when he took a pass from the right side and slotted a shot into the bottom left corner.
Rock Bridge quickly forced a turnover off the kickoff, and seconds later Schweikert doubled the Bruins lead with a rocket from outside the box. Then, Schweikert finished his hat trick by chipping the Marshall goalkeeper.
Schweikert will split minutes as a forward and a defender this season and Wittenborn said he can be productive at both positions.
“He has worked probably harder than anyone on our team,” Wittenborn said. “He was at every offseason conditioning workout and it shows. He’s got such a work ethic and I think he is going to be a good player for us no matter where he plays.”
The Bruins finished the night with a 4-0 win against Southern Boone.
Johnson slipped past the left side of the defense and put a shot past the keeper into the right side of the net to give Rock Bridge a 1-0 lead three minutes into the scrimmage. A minute later Johnson headed a goal in to double the Bruins lead.
Juniors Wesley Goyette and Aaron VanDyke added goals later to give Rock Bridge two straight wins to end the night.
During all three games, the Bruins controlled possession and spent most of the time on the attack.
“This is the best we’ve passed the ball this early on in the season,” head coach Scott Wittenborn said. “Top-to-bottom we looked pretty good.”
Senior Preston Francher led the midfield with his motor and passing ability. He would pick off opponents' passes and then immediately spring forwards up field with a pass.
“He’s not going to get the stats everyone else is, but he’s just everywhere,” Wittenborn said. “He’s got this engine that never stops, and he’s so talented with the ball at his feet. So much of our offense starts through him.”
The Bruins open their season 6 p.m. Friday at Kickapoo.
MSHSAA makes district assignments for local teams
MSHSAA made new district and class assignments for fall sports on Friday.
Columbia’s trio of public schools — Hickman, Battle and Rock Bridge — will join Jefferson City in Class 4 District 11 this season. Rock Bridge defeated Jefferson City in last year’s district title game 2-0, while both Battle and Hickman lost in the district semifinals. Battle will join the district after being in District 5 for the past two seasons.
After losing in the Class 2 District Championship to Southern Boone last season, Father Tolton moved to Class 1 and will join Belle, Smithton, Stover and The Fulton School at St. Albans High School in District 4.
Trailblazers coach Chuck Register said the move gives Tolton a better chance at making a deep run in the state tournament this season.
“We could make a pretty good showing and have a chance at State,” Register said.