Film Study with Emerging Midfielder Cole Kirst

By Jerome Taylor | Aug 6, 2023

Because of their subpar production this season, the Redwoods offensive midfield unit has been one of the most criticized groups in the league. 

Heading into last Saturday’s matchup with the Cannons, head coach Nat St. Laurent made some alterations to the lineup.

The revamped lineup included some benchings and some signings, but the player with the most significant impact on the stat sheet was possibly the most overlooked aspect of the new-look ‘Woods: Cole Kirst

After Saturday, Kirst has appeared in half of the ‘Woods’ six games, yet in limited playing time, this year’s third-round pick has the second-highest point tally among the Redwoods’ midfielders with five goals and two assists.

And because whenever the cameras cut to Kirst on gameday, he steals the show, why not let the Newhouse School alumnus talk us through some of his goals this season?

Cole Kirst as a Dodger   

Against the Waterdogs, Kirst finished with 3 points (2 goals and an assist), and he showed impressive confidence and poise on the first goal of his professional career. 

The rookie’s first goal involved beating his one-on-one matchup, readjusting to what he expected to see, squaring his shoulders, and scoring a pivotal equalizing goal with the shot clock down to its last ticks.

In addition to creating so much separation with his roll dodge, Kirst explains how he adjusted his plans once he realized no slide was coming. However, against the Cannons, he showed that he’s more than capable of taking on the playmaker role. 

Once Kirst got going downhill, he made a tremendous feed to Wes Berg, who buried the goal while under duress.

Kirst as a Finisher 

On top of making his third appearance of the season, Kirst was propelled to the Redwoods’ power play unit on Saturday. A move that paid off, with Kirst notching three goals on the day, each one coming when the Redwoods had a player advantage. 

Let’s look at the first one, which will surely be discussed at the next Kirst-family gathering considering it came against his older brother Colin.

Cole noted the phenomenal pass from Charlie Bertrand. But his ability to put himself in a good position for shots shines through in the film through three games. 

His excellent positioning currently has him ranked 19th in the league in expected shot percentage, a metric indicative of which players are the best at getting themselves in an ideal position to score.

Whether using the C-cut to navigate around the crease on the play above or executing a backdoor cut before Kevin Rogers dots him with a pass in the play below, Kirst's off-ball prowess is a welcome sight for the Redwoods.

Outside of timely cuts, Kirst displayed the bubbling chemistry emerging with his training-camp roommate, Rob Pannell. Pannell makes the play below by his ability to look off defenders, but Kirst and Pannell must be on the same page to make this play work in tight quarters.

Kirst's versatility as a playmaker and scorer adds a much-needed dynamic element to the Redwoods offense. Not to mention it vindicates St. Laurent's decision to draft him, despite mixed reactions from Redwoods’ fans on draft night.

We’ll see if Kirst can keep up his stellar play as the ‘Woods continue their late-season fight for playoff seeding in their game this Saturday against Chaos in Baltimore.