Through the first seven games of the high school girls’ soccer season, no one has been able to stop the Grace Academy offense.
Silverdale Baptist was the latest team to make an attempt, but the Lady Golden Eagles continued their unbeaten run by storming to a 7-0 District 5-A/AA victory at home Thursday night.
“I think these girls on my team just truly love to score,” Grace coach Gretchen Hammel said.
“I have some younger players this year who are true forwards and have really just helped push us on offense. The past couple years we’ve kind of been lacking true, strong forwards up top, and now we have that. But everybody on the team is scoring; it’s not just one person.”
Thursday’s match was proof of that fact, as six players accounted for Grace’s seven goals. Maddie Ferrell opened the scoring about nine minutes in on an assist from Emily Clark, and Ebony Ransby and Olivia Rowell added goals before the break to give Grace a 3-0 halftime lead. Holly Badger and Clark had the assists on those scores, and the quick start was a good sign for Hammel, who has been encouraging her team to open matches with a different approach.
“For the first part of the season, we were coming out slow,” she said. “We realized that we needed to start coming out more quickly and getting on the scoreboard early. That’s been one of our goals the past couple games, to come out and attack hard.”
The Lady Golden Eagles continued creating scoring opportunities throughout the second half against Silverdale, and added to their lead three minutes into the period when Danielle Shumaker finished a ball from Rachel Beard. Grace almost immediately followed that with a goal that was negated by an offsides call, and within minutes had another ball miss inches wide. With 28:43 remaining, Clark sent a shot off the post, and Kayla Bibbs was there to follow it into the goal.
Rowell scored again with 12:03 left to play on a ball from Katie Cordell, and Rowell assisted on the final goal from Alex Walls in the 74th minute. Hammel also praised the play of Rachel Carter, who helped create several more scoring chances for Grace on Thursday.
“They’ve gotten a taste of scoring, and they love it, and they love winning,” Hammel said. “They work hard, and we’ve been honing in on our weaknesses, so our goal is just to get better every game. I’m proud of them for doing what we knew they could do.”
The victory improves Grace’s record to 7-0 overall and 4-0 in district play. The offensive performance has helped the Lady Golden Eagles make an appearance at No. 10 in the Class A/AA state rankings, but their defense has been equally impressive.
Led by keeper Abbey Bosco, who needed to make only three saves against Silverdale, the Grace defenders are making goals as rare for opponents as they are plentiful for the Lady Golden Eagles.
“The girls I have in the back are just true defenders,” Hammel said. “They know what they’re doing, and they keep good shape back there. I have an unbelieveable keeper who’s the leader of this team, so it’s hard to get through those girls in the back line. At the beginning of the season, the first thing we address is our defense, and once we make sure that’s in place, then we start working on everything else.”
And so far for Grace, everything else is working well.
(E-mail Jaime Barrett at firstname.lastname@example.org)