There might have been a defining feature that rescued the Rockhurst boys’ soccer team from its midseason swoon and propelled it into yet another state tournament, but the Hawklets still aren’t quite sure what that was.
Not that they cared. All that mattered was the result.
The Hawklets made their 15th state tournament in the last 19 years and their ninth in the last 11. And although they settled for fourth place last Saturday in the Missouri Class 3 event at Blue Springs South High School, their late-season surge was enough for a positive look back on 2012.
“I don’t even know why it suddenly clicked, but it did,” senior captain Robert Thompson said. “Our chemistry just improved in the later part of the season, and we gave it our all. I’m disappointed we didn’t do better (in the state tournament), but I love this team.”
The season began with a hiccup, with Rockhurst losing several players who opted to play in the 10-month academy season and therefore miss the high school season. It only got worse in the early part of the season with players battling injuries and the Hawklets struggling to find a cohesive group.
With two weeks left in the regular season, the Hawklets had stumbled to an uncharacteristic 13-9-1 record midway through October.
“This team overcame a lot of adversity, probably as much adversity as almost anybody I’ve coached,” coach Chris Lawson said. “They were tested, and they responded. For that, I’ll remember this very fondly.”
The team is more likely to remember the final month as opposed to the first two.
A late-season victory over Lee’s Summit North — the state’s top-ranked team — jump-started a six-game winning streak that Rockhurst carried into the state semifinals last weekend. The Hawklets lost the semifinal match 1-0 to Christian Brothers College of St. Louis on Friday, and a day later they dropped a 3-1 decision to Columbia Rock Bridge in the third-place match.
But the Hawklets, who finished 19-11-1, added another victory against Lee’s Summit North and one against third-ranked Park Hill South in the playoffs.
“This team certainly achieved everything they were capable of achieving,” Lawson said. “I’m very proud of them. This group will be talked about just like all the other teams that came through Rockhurst.”