After plenty of time off due to the weather, the Lady Tigers soccer team (3-0) was finally able to play their third game of the season when they hosted Belle on Thursday, March 29. The match looked like a classic Spring Break trap game early, but a strong push late in the first half lifted St. James to a 5-2 win.
The Lady Tigers got off to a good start when Shelby Quick found the back of the net in the sixth minute to give St. James a 1-0. Belle was able to respond five minutes later thanks to a hand-ball from St. James. That led to a free kick just outside the box. Ivy Fowler was able to save the free kick, but Belle scored on a rebound to knot the game at 1-1.
Midway through the first half, Quinn Paulus took over. First Paulus first a cross towards Kaylynn Crocker in the 20th minute. Crocker got a foot on it and it was redirected into the goal by a Belle defender to give St. James a 2-1. Paulus then scored the first of her three goals a minute later. The Lady Tigers were set up with a corner kick, which Shelby Marcee sent towards Paulus, who found the back of the net to give St. James a 3-1 lead. They would carry that lead into the half and never gave it up.
The second half was all St. James. Paulus scored again midway through the second half, before capping off her hat-trick with a penalty kick five minutes later. That stretched the St. James lead to 5-1. The Lady Tigers subbed out most of their starters in the final few minutes and Belle was able to sneak in one final goal to bring the final score to 5-2.
Spring Break games can always be rough, because teams tend to be missing some players and that was the case for St. James. The Lady Tigers were without one of their top scorers, Mikaela Donnelly, but still managed to find the back of the net five times in the win. Another important aspect has been the rough weather this past week. Assistant coach Beau Moreland was just happy his team was able to get a game in this week, even if it had to be in rainy weather.
"It's huge. Games like that can make or break a season in the long run, because any time you can get in game experience in whether it was a great day or a rainy day, it's always good just to have that for the girls to continue to work on the stuff that you can't cover in practice," said coach Moreland. "We were really hoping we'd be able to get it in and the Dixon game being cancelled was unfortunate, because every one that you can get in makes a huge difference and a lot of growth for your team."
The other big take away for St. James was their second half performance. The Lady Tigers didn't respond well to taking a lead into the half in their second game of the season against Crocker, so coach Moreland was proud that his girls kept their foot on the gas and put the game away in the second half.
"One of the biggest things that we really took out of that game that was different than the other two was the way that they played after the first half," said Moreland. "One of our things going into the game was telling them 'you guys are playing well together and when we get out there, whatever happens, we've gotta continue to get better in the second half' and they actually did. They played that second half the way they played the second half and that's what it's going to take to win close games."
The Lady Tigers will be back in action with their first road game of the season when they head to Fatima on Monday, April 2.