KIRKWOOD — Lindbergh senior Fetiol Hyke said from his earliest days in high school he and his Flyers boys soccer teammates have had a master plan.
The goal was to get the Flyers back to the state semifinals for the first time in more than two decades.
While there is still plenty of work to do, the mere fact Lindbergh (17-8-1) will play De Smet (16-4-1) at 3:30 p.m. Friday at Soccer Park in a Class 4 state semifinal is already a mission accomplished. Lindbergh's last reached the state semifinals in 1994, when it won a Class 4A championship.
“We knew being together all these years we'd have a really good run at it,” Hyke said. “We're living it right now. A lot of the soccer guys were friends before high school even started. We thought that this year would actually be our year to go all the way. Now that we're actually doing this, I wouldn't say we're surprised. We expected this. We just focus on the next game every day.”
That focus is what has helped Hyke play an important role for the Flyers.
Hyke, who came to the United States from Albania with his family as a young child, has scored seven goals and provided a team-leading 12 assists. His goal total is second only to junior forward Almir Mujcinovic's 12 goals.
The effort by Hyke hasn't been lost on Lindbergh coach Mark Giesing.
“Fetiol's work rate has been phenomenal all year,” Giesing said. “One of the things that I think that helps him is that he's not a classic striker by size or speed. We made an adjustment to make him more of a high central midfielder. I think that's really got the ball at his foot a lot more. It's given him more opportunities. The more touches he has, the more he gets himself in the game. Without as many touches, we just wouldn't find him enough.”
It was Hyke's tally Saturday in a 1-0 quarterfinal win over Kirkwood that made all the difference.
He scored in the 25th minute to help send the Flyers to state.
“He does a lot of dead balls for us, so he's always working on it after practice,” Giesing said. “He works so hard. When it's not in season, you'll see him out at Soccer Park in an open space with a couple of balls, working on his game. He has a passionate love of the game and he's always trying to perfect it.”
Giesing said he's excited to see the Flyers come through the way they have.
The coach said he feels the current players are playing for those that have come before them. There have been many postseason misses since the Flyers won the state title in 1994.
“Lindbergh has always been a very strong program, but for whatever, reason, we've had nightmares in the postseason,” Giesing said. “These guys, when we won districts against Mehlville the outpouring of emotion was amazing. It was fabulous. There is a group of older guys who would text the guys with encouragement. They wanted the guys to let it be known that it wasn't just for them, it was for a lot of teams that had come up short.”
While facing the defending Class 4 state runner-up De Smet could be daunting, Hyke said the team will be ready.
It will be the first game between the programs, which are located about a 20-minute drive from each other, since 2001.
“I think this week is going to be us fine-tuning our game,” Hyke said. “We're going to have to work hard to make sure we're all together as one in this moment. We've watched De Smet play a couple of times and we know they've seen us. I can honestly say they're a great and talented team, but we're right up there with them. It's going to be a hell of a game.”