STREATOR — It doesn’t take much imagination to realize that in soccer, if you don’t have the ball in your offensive end much, it’s difficult to score.
Conversely, it’s much easier to find the back of the net when you spend most of the match within short striking distance of it.
That was Streator’s plan against Chillicothe IVC here at the YMCA pitch, and SHS executed that to perfection.
Ashley McCurdy posted a hat trick, collecting two of those goals in the 3-0 first half, and Shannon Paton added two more, one each in the first minute of each half, as the Lady Bulldogs put on a clinic of how to maintain possession of the ball during their 7-0, time-shortened victory over Chillicothe IVC.
Despite being without center midfielder Hannah Schmitz and striker Millie Dean, both away on spring break trips, Streator was able to move to 4-0-1 on the season by making Paton’s first goal stand up for most of the first half, thanks in large part to a defense that allowed only a single shot on keeper Emma Harris the entire match.
It then peppered IVC keeper Jaime Cecil for six goals in the span of just over 22 minutes of clock time, bringing into play the time-cutting mercy rule.
“Being without two of our most important players, the big focus was for my defense to control the game at midfield, and they did,” said SHS coach J.T. Huey. “(IVC) may have had maybe three or four pushes total and just one trickled shot there toward the end, and that’s only because my defense stepped it up big time. Because of spring break, my typical starting line wasn’t back there, with Brooke Melvin stepping in to start and Anna Nelson moving to stopper, and they did a great job, as did Haylee Bruce filling in at center-mid.
“The big thing today was that we had a lot of players that weren’t playing their normal positions today, and they stepped up and played well.”
Paton, one of the mainstays, started the day right by taking passes from Alyssa Eutsey and McCurdy, driving the right side of the pitch and chipping a short shot over the diving Cecil, who’d come out to cut down the angle, for the first goal just 54 seconds into the opening session.
From there, IVC toughened and turned away several of Streator’s prime scoring opportunities for a lengthy stretch before finally, in the 34th minute, McCurdy broke through with an assist from Taylor Hoskins. Though Cecil stopped McCurdy’s first shot, the ball slipped through her fingers and the Lady Bulldogs senior was there to punch it in for a 2-0 lead.
That opened the floodgates.
McCurdy added another score off assists from Bruce and Sydney Donahue with just 52 seconds left in the half, and Paton added her second goal off a Nelson assists just 55 seconds into the second. Sam Goerne later added a rare corner kick goal in the 45th minute; freshman Ashlyn Rogers, playing in her first varsity game, made a steal and scored on a breakaway in the 54th minute; and McCurdy cashed in a steal and pass from Rogers to finish her trifecta with 24:03 on the clock.
“We started slow. We got that one right off the bat, but then we got overconfident,” Huey said. “Hand it to IVC’s defense. They packed it in and we struggled for 20, 25 minutes to get another one. Once we started finishing, there was the trickle effect, and it ended up the way it did.”