The St. James soccer team (6-8) hosted Belle on Tuesday, April 25. The Lady Tigers were able to string together their first winning streak of the season by taking down Belle 9-0 for their third straight victory.
If you blinked you might've missed some goals from St. James against Belle. The Lady Tigers took a 2-0 lead in the first few minutes with goals by Kaylynn Crocker and Mikaela Donnelly. Crocker was able to strike first before a header by Donnelly for the second goal. Quinn Paulus then scored her first goal of the contest by fighting through a number of defenders in the 15th minute to bring the score to 3-0.
Paulus was the first player to score her second goal of the game in the 30th minute and St. James wasn't slowing down. The Lady Tigers scored again two minutes later for their second goal off of a corner kick. Paulus served up a corner kick that bounced off the head of Sam Seiber to Crocker, who found the back of the net for her second goal of the match. St. James wouldn't give Belle a second to catch their breath, as Donnelly scored immediately afterwards to bring the score to 6-0 at the half.
The second half started a little bit slow for St. James. It took just over 10 minutes, but Paulus was able to win the three horse race to a hat trick with her third goal of the game in the 52nd minute. Restarts continued to be a great source of offense for St. James, as Kenzie Ketcherside scored her first goal of the game by launching a free kick past the Belle keeper from about 30 feet out in the 59th minute. Ketcherside then fired another long free kick, which Donnelly was able to redirect into the net to complete her own hat trick, bringing the score to 9-0.
St. James needed one more goal to finish off the mercy rule win, but they couldn't find the back of the net. Several reserves were given a chance to play and they had their share of chances. Belle's keeper turned away several shots in the last few minutes from starters and reserves. Shelby Quick, Hannah Gibson and Donnelly all nearly won the game before the end of regulation, but Belle was able to hold them off to finish the game.
At the end of the game St. James had hat tricks by Paulus and Donnelly, two goals from Crocker and a goal from Ketcherside. Ketcherside also had two assists, as did Seiber.
This win streak has been important for head coach Abbi Moreland because she's been able to get a number of players involved in the scoring efforts. Paulus gets a lot of the credit with three consecutive hat tricks, but she's also dished out a lot of passes to get her teammates involved. With more players scoring, there's more individual drive to improve.
"It's huge. They're up right now and they're playing like it," said coach Moreland. "They get that goal, they feel what it feels like and it makes them have that hunger for it and that's something they struggled with at the beginning, that hunger, because I don't think they knew what that felt like."
Moreland continued, "I think right now we're finally putting things together. All the pieces are coming together, the communication, the confidence, everything's just starting to take it's place."
The Lady Tigers were supposed to follow up that win with a matchup with Crocker on Wednesday, April 26, but it was cancelled due to weather conditions. They will next play at St. Clair for a Four Rivers Conference matchup on Monday, May 1.