Eagles girls’ soccer powers past Central, 8-0
BERRYVILLE — Expectations are high for Clarke County’s girls’ soccer team this season.
With an experienced group back that went all the way to the Group A semifinals last year, the Eagles are hoping for a little higher finish this season.
In their Bull Run District opener against Central, they left no doubt that a state title isn’t an unrealistic goal, demolishing the Falcons in a mercy-rule 8-0 victory.
The only thing really in doubt Tuesday was how long it would take Clarke County to finish off Central, and Morgan Fletcher’s goal with 17 minutes left finished the contest.
Taylor Marshall led the Eagles (3-0, 1-0 Bull Run) with a hat trick.
“We know that we have an experienced squad this year,” Clarke County coach Terry Ellis said. “We’ve got some big goals this year and we’re going to go after them strong. I was very pleased with the way we possessed the ball, and moved through them.”
The Eagles controlled play from the opening whistle and never gave the Falcons a chance to threaten Clarke County’s goal. The Eagle defense not only shut out Central (0-3, 0-2) on the scoreboard, but kept the Falcons from even attempting a shot.
In fact, the closest Central got to Clarke County’s goal was a corner kick late in the first half.
“We worked on switching the ball and keeping possession of the ball,” Eagles center fullback Sara Lettie said. “We also wanted to keep the ball on the ground and work the ball up the field, and get good passes through to the offense.
“We were off all last week for spring break and we were a little nervous about this game, but things worked out really well.”
While the Eagles defense kept the Falcons far away from their goal, Clarke County’s offense kept the ball near the Central goal for most of the game, out-shooting the Falcons 25-0 in the first 40 minutes of play.
With the ball deep in Central’s end of the field so often, it took the Eagles less than two minutes to score their first goal of the game.
Sarah Alger got that honor, hammering home a shot from 15 yards out with 38:30 still left in the first half.
Clarke County center forward Aubrey Fletcher got the Eagles next two goals. The Eagle senior took a corner kick from Rachel Sefton seven minutes after Alger’s goal and shot it into the net from point-blank range.
Central fought desperately to keep Clarke County from scoring again, but the relentless pressure proved too much for the outmatched Falcons.
“We’ve been working really hard on our passing, and making sure that our girls are moving into open space for the ball,” Ellis said. “I thought we did that very well tonight, and it was especially pleasing to see that in our first district game.”
With 20 minutes to play in the first half the strain on the Falcons defense finally broke down for good. Fletcher took a pass from Sefton and scored her second goal of the game with 19:46 to play in the half.
With the Eagles leading 3-0 it was Marshall’s turn for a scoring opportunity, and the junior took full advantage.
Over the next nine minutes Marshall sent the ball to the back of the Falcon net three times to give the her a hat trick and her team a commanding 6-0 lead with 9:30 still to play in the first half.
Marshall scored off a pass from Fletcher, and two breakaways.
“I had a hat trick when I played JV, but that was a long time ago,” Marshall said. “I’m really excited about getting one tonight. Our coaches teach us to hold the ball, and wait for our opportunities. I did that tonight, and it really paid off.”
Sara Clark also got into the act for Clarke County, scoring off a ricochet from a shot by Emily Deem with 5:42 left in the first half.
The Eagles cleared their bench through the first 20 minutes of the second half, and concentrated on keeping the ball away from the Falcons rather than scoring a goal. Although Clarke County only attempted three shots in the second half, the third one put an end to the game.
“We played really well tonight, and I’m really excited to see how the rest of the season goes,” Marshall said. “We’re going to lose a lot of seniors after this season, and we want to make it a special one for them.”
The final goal came off a breakaway by Morgan Fletcher with 17 minutes left in the second half.
“I really believe that Clarke County is going to go all the way this year,” Falcons coach Hap Kwiatkowski said. “I watched them play last year, and I think they’re even better this year. Aubrey Fletcher is a fantastic player, and their midfield really controlled the ball for the entire game.”