On the heels of their first loss of the season, a 1-0 defeat at the hands of a talented River View crew, Hiland Lady Hawks head coach Conner Lee challenged his soccer team to come out with a vengeance and set the tone in their confrontation with Canton Central Catholic on Thursday, Sept. 6 at Hiland High School.
Five minutes later the Lady Hawks were celebrating Lexi Raber’s goal, which kick-started a 5-0 avalanche win over the Crusaders.
Hiland stormed out of the huddle, and Mia Gertz worked her way downfield and found Raber, who banged home what turned out to essentially be the game-winning goal just five minutes into the contest, but Hiland was far from done putting the ball into the back of the net.
While the Lady Hawks produced five goals, not a single player scored more than one, which pleased Lee to no end.
“If we continue to spread it around the score sheet like that, it is only going to make us better,” Lee said. “I like seeing us spreading the scoring around like that.”
While Gertz gave for the first tally, she took it upon herself to manufacture the second score, getting one on her own to make it 2-0 in the 15th minute of play.
Gertz would then get back into the giving mood when she found the feet of Taryn Schlabach, who hammered home the third goal of the night just 22 minutes in.
Defensively Hiland continued its dominant ways, and the Lady Hawks built their lead to 4-0 in the 60th minute when freshman Paige Gertz assisted Allison Gingerich on a score. Nine minutes later Gabby Schlabach scored off an assist from Great Mast, and that was more than enough for the staunch Hiland defense.
Now at 4-1 on the year, Hiland has given up just the one goal to River View. Keepers Kendra Shetler and Abbey Beach continue to keep the ball out of net at an impressive clip.
“We’ve played five games and allowed one goal, and that is huge for us to put up defensive efforts like that,” Lee said. “Nikki Yoder and Kara Kornhaus have played great in the middle of the defense, and our outside backs have done a terrific job, as have our keepers. It’s been a really cohesive until that has worked well together. Both Kendra and Abbey have done a great job in net for us so far, and I have complete confidence in both of them.”
Lee went on to say that with the ongoing defensive effort being so good, it takes a great deal of pressure off of the offense to have to produce a ton of goals. On this night they did the job on both ends of the field and took care of business.
Lee said perhaps the most encouraging thing he took away from the game was the way his team found each other moving the ball up the field and into scoring position.
“I’ve been a little disappointed the last couple of games in the way we have moved the ball in transition through the midfield area, and I thought we kind of figured that out tonight,” Lee said. “We kept the ball wide instead of simply looking to play through balls constantly. I was really pleased with every single aspect of our game tonight.”
Hiland fired off 12 shots to CCC’s 10, and Shetler made five saves in the first half while Beach matched that number in the second half. Hiland produced eight corner kicks to the Crusaders’ one.