OTTAWA — A week ago after a six-goal loss to rival Streator, Ottawa girls soccer coach Sean Porter admitted his club didn't play at all like a "team," and he was curious to how his players would respond moving forward.
He saw what he was looking for early and very often during Wednesday's dominating home opener against Illinois Valley Central here at King Field.
The Lady Pirates (1-1-1) found the back of the net three times in the match's opening 10 minutes, extended their lead to seven at halftime and eventually rolled to a 12-0 victory over the visiting Grey Ghosts (0-4) for OHS's first triumph of the season.
Freshman Abby Falaney recorded four goals and a pair of assists, while her sister, junior Kaitlin, notched three goals and three helpers. Senior Skylar VanMill posted a pair of goals with two assists, with classmate Katie McGraw scoring once and passing off for two others. Freshman Amaria Ross registered two goals, while sophomore Lexi Sommer added two assists.
"We played as a unit tonight, and it was from the very start of the game until the very end," said Porter, his club holding an eye-popping 48-1 advantage in overall shots, including 30-0 in on-target chances. "We played with hunger, with gusto, but also with a joy to the game. It was a rivalry game with Streator, but with the younger team we have, I think they just put too much pressure on themselves.
"We had a long talk after the Streator game and again before tonight's game about what it means to play as a team. We were looking for options tonight, not just trying to make things happen individually, which was great to see."
Ottawa wasted little time against IVC, as just over three minutes in Ross took a pass from Kaitlin Falaney and, although her shot hit the left post, the rebound caromed off the hands of the Grey Ghosts' keeper and over the goal line. VanMill then made it 2-0 just 24 seconds later by pushing a 20-yard shot past a charging keeper, and in the 8th minute, Kaitlin Falaney found the back of the net from close range after tracking down a perfect lead pass from Sommer.
"It was definitely a wake-up call for everyone on this team and a tough loss," VanMill said of the loss to Streator. "We didn't work at all as a team in that game. Since then we have been working on fundamentals in practice and playing together as a unit instead of trying to do everything on an individual level. I thought we were able to do all the things we have been talking about and working on tonight, and we'll need to continue to do that."
The hosts made it 4-0 in the 13th minute as McGraw crashed the net off a Abby Falaney corner kick. Kaitlin Falaney completed the hat trick with back-to-back goals in the 17th and 19th minutes. VanMill made it a 7-0 cushion in the 20th minute after taking a left-to-right crossing pass from Kaitlin Falaney.
"We've had fun practices since last week, and I think it really brought the team together," said Kaitlin Falaney. "We played too stressful against Streator, and tonight we came out and just had fun playing soccer together. Tonight everyone really put forward a great effort and did the right things, but we can still get better."
The seven-goal advantage at the halftime sliced the second half time to just 20 minutes, but that was enough time for the Lady Pirates to hit the back of the net five more times.
The Falaney sisters hooked up on goal No. 8, Kaitlin finding Abby, while Ross scored off an assist from VanMIll. Abby Falaney then scored the final three goals for the hosts over the final eight minutes, two off passes from McGraw.