Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Experience bolsters this season's Rock Bridge boys soccer team

by Nicholas Sullivan

COLUMBIA — “Win state.” That was the answer every senior on the Rock Bridge soccer team gave when asked to name a team goal.

A year after losing in the Class 3 state semifinals and finishing in a tie for third place, the Bruins are hungry to return to Anheuser-Busch Soccer Park in Fenton and bring home a state title. Whether or not they have the talent is unknown; whether they have experience has already been answered.

Fourth-year head coach Kyle Austin said he thinks this year’s team can build off of last year’s success.

“We lost a couple of key players, but we should still be successful,” Austin said. “We have a lot of senior experience. A lot of varsity experience for that matter. I think we only added one guy that didn’t get to play at least a couple of games at the varsity level last year.”

Loaded with 11 seniors and a roster full of players that contributed to last year’s successful postseason run, the Bruins boast one of the most experienced teams in the state.

Despite the return of several key players from last year’s team, captains Brady Wulff, Danny Baird and Ryan Taylor will be missed, Austin said. Wulff and Baird, who are now playing for Columbia College, were both All-State selections.

Overall, the Rock Bridge team lost seven seniors, four of whom were starters, but returns most of its goal-scorers and its entire defensive back line. The Bruins' top four goal-scorers from a season ago — Matt Kelly (27), Ryan Schmidt (9), Tyler Griggs (7) and Eli Sherman (5) – are returning this year.

Kelly, who led the team in goals and assists a season ago, is one of three player-elected captains, along with fellow seniors Sam Stoeckl and Kory McDonald. Stoeckl, McDonald and senior Tyler Brittain make up the starting back line.

“The team is very offensively dangerous, because all of our offensive players are well experienced in varsity play,” Kelly said.

Probably the biggest question mark heading into the season is who will be playing a majority of the minutes in goal for the Bruins with the departure of Wulff.

Senior Andres Bare was scheduled to get the start in the season opener Saturday at Rockhurst, but Alex Nichols, the assistant coach in charge of goalkeepers, made it clear that both back-up goalies, senior Jonas Gassman and sophomore Greg Kelly, will still see significant playing time this year.

“I feel like we have three of the top goalies in the state," Nichols said. "It probably sounds a bit arrogant, but I truly believe it.”

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Taylor a unique leader for Rock Bridge soccer team

By Blair Weaver
November 8, 2010 | 7:14 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA – Rock Bridge boys soccer coach Kyle Austin says one of his favorite memories of senior captain Ryan Taylor was when Taylor dressed as an American patriot for school one day.

“I came out to practice and he’s sitting there warming the team up in his Thomas Jefferson outfit,” Austin said. “It’s things like that that make him the icon of the team. He’s always the one fully decked out and leading the team through everything.”

According to Austin, Taylor’s leadership is what sets him apart from the rest of his teammates.

“He has this ability to lead people, which is a quality that a lot of people don’t have, and he intrinsically has it. People are naturally drawn to him, he is very charismatic and when he talks people listen,” Austin said. “Every teams needs a player like that and Ryan is that player.”

Taylor's leadership shows up in various ways. On the soccer field he is always full of energy whether he is on the field or on the sideline, and he is also one of the creators of the team slogan “Boomtown.” But his biggest contribution might be the humor he brings to the team. Austin says Taylor is “always in costume.”

“The team is full of personalities. But if you have to define one personality, it’s Ryan Taylor,” Austin said. “He’s the one who organizes everything, like what they wear to school the next day. But he’s the one who will take it to the extreme.”

The team dresses up at school for home games, but Taylor and fellow senior captain Brady Wulff decided to add in a twist for away games, creating a theme for the team. While some of the players might only wear one or two things, Taylor can be found completely decked out.

“Some of our themes have been cowboy theme, ‘Guido’ theme, where we all gelled our hair, one day we all wore really weird things like suspenders and bow ties and Wednesday was ‘dress like the coaches day,'” Taylor said. “We create the ideas to inspire.”

Taylor also played a big role in developing the nicknames that the players use for each other. Jonathan Gunter, one of the more reserved players on the team is called “Big Crazy.” Danny Baird is the self-proclaimed “Rock," and Matt Kelly calls Taylor “Boomtown." Ryan Stanowski is nicknamed “Stank,” and Brady Wulff is known as “Big Bad," as in “Big Bad Wulff."

“They were a team effort, a collaboration that we agreed upon,” Taylor said.

Taylor missed several games at the start of the season with a broken toe.

“It was tough for him as a senior knowing it’s his last season to play," Austin said. "But he’s always into it. He’s kind of an assistant coach for me, someone I can tell what to do and he pulls the guys together, instructs them like a coach would. He always gives 100 percent on the field and leads more through example than vocal ability. He’s always the first one to practice and knows when it’s time to have fun and when it’s time to focus.”

Taylor said his relationship with Austin has grown every year since he first met Austin as a sophomore.

“I really respect him. Now, this year I know him a lot more than just a coach, and since I’m his teacher’s assistant, I get to see him every day,” Taylor said.

Both Taylor and Austin agreed that their favorite part of the season so far was winning the district championship last Wednesday. The game went into overtime penalty kicks, Taylor making one of the decisive scores.

“When Taylor hit the PK, he had a look over exuberance on his face, like they were able to accomplish this task they set forth in the beginning of August,” Austin said. “Seeing him as happy and excited and not being able to contain himself was rewarding as a coach. He deserved it so much as did the other seniors.”

Bruins prevail in PKs

Rock Bridge tops Jeff City for title.
By Nick Snow Columbia Daily Tribune
Thursday, November 4, 2010

SEDALIA — After losing to Jefferson City on penalty kicks earlier in the year, the Rock Bridge soccer team committed itself to working harder on penalty kicks in practice.

All that hard work paid off in a big way. Rock Bridge went 6 for 6 in penalty kicks, capped off by sophomore Ryan Stanowski’s laser into the back of the net that sealed a 6-5 PK victory over Jefferson City in the Class 3 District 9 championship game, which was scoreless after overtime. The victory gives the Bruins their first district title since 2004.

“It’s always nice to avenge one of your season losses,” Rock Bridge Coach Kyle Austin said. “Words cannot describe how happy I am for these kids. This was all for them. They deserved this victory. They’re all unbelievable kids, not only on the soccer field, but also in the community and in the classroom. To get this kind of reward is just awesome.

“These kids remembered how it felt to lose after being the top seed last year, and they just weren’t going to let it happen again. They fought for 110 minutes and built off their experiences from last season.”

Rock Bridge (22-5) controlled the ball for most of the match, nearly scoring 10 minutes into the first half. But Tyler Griggs’ goal was waved off after the officials ruled that Jefferson City goalkeeper C.J. Loehner had possession. Although the Bruins had the wind at their back for the first half, the Jays suffocated them on defense to keep the game scoreless.

Things got a little more chippy in the second half as Rock Bridge picked up a pair of yellow cards and Jefferson City received one of its own. The Jays controlled the ball a little more in the second half, but Rock Bridge goalkeeper Brady Wulff and the defense kept Jefferson City scoreless.

Wulff came up with a huge stop against Nicholas Anglen in the second overtime to keep hope alive for the Bruins. Loehner matched Wulff by hauling in a hard shot from Ryan Schmidt with just more than five minutes remaining in the second overtime.

In the first set of penalty kicks, both teams hit all five shots, as Jonathan Gunter, Matt Kelly, Trevor Davis, Ryan Taylor and Danny Baird all scored for the Bruins, while Anglen, Tanner Bone, Tyler Luebbert, Dylan Braunder and Claude Ruboneka scored for Jefferson City.

Jefferson City freshman Aaron Crane’s shot sailed high, putting the pressure on Stanowski. With a deep breath, Stanowski uncorked a shot toward the left side of the net for the game-winner.

“We set the tone by having a 12:01 a.m. practice that first day, so we have been really determined to win a district championship all season,” said Wulff, who is one of the Rock Bridge captains. “It feels good.”

Rock Bridge will face another familiar opponent, Rolla, in a Class 3 sectional Tuesday in Rolla. The Bruins won the regular-season meeting 1-0.

“We’re hoping to use this as a great learning experience,” Austin said. “This is a young group that bonded quickly. It’s going to be tough to top 22 wins, but we’re not done yet. We’re still adding to that total. By the time the season ends, I’d like to be around 25 or 26 wins.”

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Rock Bridge advances to district soccer final

By Missourian staff
November 1, 2010 | 10:23 p.m. CDT

The Rock Bridge boys soccer team defeated host Smith Cotton 2-0 Monday night in the semifinals of the Class 3, District 9 tournament in Sedalia.

Senior Danny Baird scored in the first half off an assist by senior Jon Gunter. Junior Matt Kelly sent in another goal in the second half off an assist by senior Trevor Davis.

Fourth-seeded Smith-Cotton (14-12) had advanced to the semifinal against top-seeded Rock Bridge (20-4) by beating fifth seed Washington on Saturday.

Second seed Hickman lost 1-0 to third seed Jefferson City in the late semifinal on Monday to end its season at 17-6-2 and prevent a district final showdown against the rival Bruins.

Rock Bridge is set to play Jefferson City (14-6-1) in the district finals at 6 p.m. Wednesday in Sedalia.

Monday, November 1, 2010

October 29th Class 3 State Rankings

1.) Chaminade
2.) SLUH
3.) CBC
4.) Park Hill
5.) Rockhurst
6.) Desmet
7.) Lafayette
8.) Oakville
9.) Vianney
11.)Howell North
12.)Rock Bridge
13.)Lee's Summit North
14.)Lee's Summit

Thursday, October 28, 2010

District Information

Below is the schedule for the district soccer tournament. You can find the bracket on the MSHSAA website.

Saturday, October 30
#4 Smith-Cotton vs. #5 Washington 1:00
Officials: Ed Hancock, Mike Marcum, Roger House

Monday, November 1
#1 Rock Bridge vs. Smith-Cotton/Washington Winner 5:00
#2 Hickman vs. #3 Jefferson City 7:00
Officials: Tim Thompson, Dan Page, and Ed Hancock

Wednesday, November 3
District Championship 6:00
Officials: Mike Marcum, Andy Mckee, and Dan Page

Gunter's goal sends Rock Bridge soccer team to decisive win

By Blair Weaver
October 27, 2010 | 11:12 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Senior Jonathan Gunter had just what it took to break the lull.

In the Rock Bridge boys soccer team's 3-0 win against visiting Whitfield on Wednesday night, Gunter was responsible for the second goal, giving the Bruins firm control of the outcome.

Forty minutes after Matt Kelly sent in a penalty kick for the Bruins in the 36th minute, the game remained close. After possessing the ball for the majority of the game, Rock Bridge couldn't find a way to score again in the second half. It was as if the Bruins were hypnotizing their opponents, trying to catch them on the back of their heels.

But with six minutes left in the game, Gunter, a forward, launched a shot from about 45 yards out, catching everyone off guard. The ball sailed into the back of the net.

“I was actually just crossing the ball,” Gunter said. “I didn’t even mean to shoot it.”

Gunter’s hands flew in the air, and everyone cheered with excitement, patting him on the back, surprised and excited his “pass” went in.

“I couldn’t believe it — that explains why my hands went in the air,” Gunter said.

Rock Bridge coach Kyle Austin said, “I’m very proud of him. There are no bad shots, he was just testing the goalie. I told them to shoot the ball and he listened to me. It was a great goal for our last (regular season) game, and no one deserves it more.”

Defender Tyler Brittain scored the Bruins' third goal with 27 seconds left to play.

Gunter, whose goal was his third of the season, said he thought the Bruins “dominated” the game.

“We possessed it well and were able to do what we wanted," Gunter said. "It was a good way to end the (regular) season.”

Austin seemed more than pleased with how the regular season has gone and described it as “surreal.”

“We came in losing 12 seniors — we’re a very young team,” Austin said. “I thought it would take us most of the season to come together, but we’ve been on eight- and 10-game winning streaks, and things have really fallen into place. We’re 20-5, and the kids deserve so much credit.”

The Bruins start district play at 5 p.m. Monday in Sedalia.