Brueckner's hustle leads to Indians' first score at final four

Sunday, June 6, 2010
St. Vincent's Abby Lappe kicks the ball past Barstow's Erin Bax to score the Indians' first goal in the first half of the Class 1 third-place game Saturday in Fenton, Mo. (FRED LYNCH ~ flynchsemissourian.com)

FENTON, Mo. -- St. Vincent girls soccer coach Dustin Wengert did not say much on the sidelines during his team's Class 1 third-place game victory Saturday at the Anheuser-Busch Center.

When he had something to say or an adjustment to make, he raised his voice just loud enough to be heard and calmly relayed his message, yelling only if the distance between him and his player required it.

His most boisterous reaction did not come after a goal-scoring play or in anger after a missed assignment.

With just about two minutes left in the first half and his team mired in a 0-0 tie, Wengert celebrated the hustle of senior Liz Brueckner with a loud compliment. His team was celebrating a goal just a few seconds later.

"I think that was the first instance where we saw someone go the extra mile like we have all year," Wengert said.

Barstow goalie Alexis Crowley unsuccessfully dives for a ball kicked by St. Vincent's Abby Lappe during the first half Saturday.

Brueckner actually had gone an extra 15 yards or so.

With the ball streaking down the left sideline, looking for all the world like it would roll out of bounds untouched, Brueckner charged after the ball at full speed as her Barstow shadow slowed to stop.

She caught up with the ball in the corner with little room between it and the sideline in just enough time to pounce on it and bring it to a complete stop under her feet.

"I didn't think it was staying in, but it was worth a shot," Brueckner said. "I didn't have anything to lose."

With her defender trying to catch back up, Brueckner sent the ball across to the front of the goal where teammate Abby Lappe knocked it in the net.

"She could have let the ball roll out of bounds, but she was like, 'No, I'm going to stop it. I'm going to get the ball and I'm going to put a nice cross on it,' and that's exactly what she did," Wengert said.

The goal gave the Indians a 1-0 lead and their first score at the final four.

"I really don't think we settled in until we got the first goal," Wengert said. "I think once we got that we were able to loosen up, laugh a little bit and have some fun with it. But until then I thought we still felt pressure from the letdown yesterday," referring to the team's 1-0 loss in the semifinals to Springfield Catholic.

"I think we believed in ourselves again at that point," Wengert continued. "That might have been the longest drought all year -- 100, 110 minutes, whatever it was -- without a goal. That's hard to overcome when you're able to score at will for the most part of the year. It was tough, but once we got that, it helped us relax."

Brueckner said the need to beat their opponent to the ball was one of the things the St. Vincent players talked about after Friday's loss.

"We talked about shaking off yesterday because it was really hard to get motivation back considering the loss -- the blow to the stomach," she said. "We'd been seeded No. 1 all season and then we got beat by No. 2, so it was really hard to come out and be motivational and play a good game of soccer. It was really hard."

Wengert knew that it was hard, which is why he went out of the way to acknowledge the play, even before the goal had been scored.

"That's what I said good job about," he said. "You've got to fight through the disappointment and everything and I think right at that moment that's what she was doing."

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