The Hannibal boys soccer team is one win away from securing its first-ever undefeated run through the North Central Missouri Conference.
The Hannibal boys soccer team runs like an engine fueled by unselfishness.
And the Pirates, winners of 14 of their past 15 and unbeaten in the North Central Missouri Conference entering Saturday's showdown at Marshall, aren't sputtering in the least.
Hannibal (19-4, 11-0 NCMC) has netted 131 goals this season to smash the school record of 103 set in 2003. The Pirates also are tops in program history with 102 assists and counting.
“We’re just playing well as a team,” said senior captain Cory Allensworth, Hannibal's all-time assist leader whose 27 helpers this season are an individual Pirate record. “We’re all not selfish. We help each other to score a lot of goals.”
Allensworth and junior Adam Albright lead the prolific offense with a combined 80 goals this year. The duo is the first in Hannibal history with 30-plus goals in the same season.
With a hat trick Thursday during a 7-1 win at Warrenton, Albright has recorded a school record 41 goals this fall, eclipsing the previous best of 39 set by Jack Baumann in 2015.
Allensworth found the back of the net four times Thursday and now sits at 39 scores this campaign.
“We work really hard on the crosses and then the finishes are just a lot easier,” Albright said. “We get it to the corner well, and then we slide across the middle and we have a simple finish. I get the easy part just to tap it in.”
Allensworth and Albright mentioned their goals would not be possible without the support of a talented midfield.
“One team can’t focus on just Adam or just me, they’ve got to stop two, and stopping two is kind of hard because if they put their whole defense on Adam and I then there’s wide open midfielders,” Allensworth said.
Center midfielders Colton and Lucas Brown have turned defense into offense by working the ball ahead, often sending wings Nathan DeStefane and Kabren Robinson to the corners to set up scoring chances.
“Lucas and Colton are winning every ball in the air pretty much, keeping possessions,” Allensworth continued. “They’re workhorses in there and definitely don’t get enough credit. They’re the middle piece to keep it all together and working good.”
Through its first 11 NCMC matches, Hannibal outscored opponents by a margin of 76-13. Three of the wins have come via shutouts, while two others took overtime against Kirksville.
That’s plenty of evidence for a sound defense.
“If we shut them out, they don’t get any momentum,” Albright said of opponents. “Our defense is so solid that we keep the pressure on their side and it just builds upon until we start putting it into the net.”
Defenders Trenton Roland, Caleb Ketsenburg, Jake Riefesel and Keaton Bartz have held their own to give the rest of the team one less thing to worry about on the pitch.
Goalkeeper Gabe Falconer has recorded a program-record 19 wins.
“Gabe back there, he’s great,” Robinson lauded. “He’s a real good goalie, no doubt. He’s on his best all the time. He really has helped us get the wins throughout the season.”
To the casual observer, it may appear Allensworth and Albright carry this team on their back with their production up top. However, even in the midst of their record-breaking seasons, the stars are aware that their success is the result of a team effort.
“I get the ball to other guys when I can, and when it’s my chance, then I will score,” Allensworth said. “Whether it’s me scoring or another person, it’s a goal for the team to help us win.”
The special season for Allensworth and Albright has not gone unnoticed by their peers. Robinson mentioned the pair deserves all the credit they receive.
“Adam and Cory work very great together up top,” Robinson said. “They have a good chemistry and work the ball between themselves rather well. One person runs off the other and eventually one will score.”
That’s been the case especially as of late.
Hannibal has won each of its past four matches by six goals or more. Allensworth and Albright each recorded hat tricks in the past two wins to lead the way to blowouts.
“When we rack up these big wins, we just get ourselves pumped up for the next game and try our hardest, work our best, and that’s how we’re undefeated in conference,” Robinson said.
Well, almost undefeated.
Standing in the way is Marshall (15-6, 10-1), the reigning NCMC champion Hannibal defeated 3-1 on Sept. 16. Hannibal secures its first outright conference championship since 2012 with a victory Saturday.
“They had a really good midfield, so that will be the challenge,” Albright said of playing Marshall. “Lucas, Colton and Caleb will have their work cut out for them. And they have solid defense and a good goalie.”
Allensworth vowed the Pirates will be ready to finish off their first-ever 12-0 run through the NCMC.
“We’ve been ready for this game for a long time,” Allensworth said of the Marshall rematch. “We’ve got to focus and come out really good to win. We know what to expect and how hard to play. We’re just going to have to come out, shut ‘em up and win again.”