Hutchinson High girls soccer coach Chris Reeves knows exactly how McPherson coach Chris Adrian feels.
The Salthawks are rolling following a 3-0 victory Tuesday over McPherson, which played without three injured starters.
Hutchinson (5-0) surpassed last year’s win total after a nightmarish 2011 season that saw the Salthawks compete without five injured players. Reeves said five starting freshmen have helped erase the memory of last year.
“We knew we had a great group of freshmen,” Reeves said. “Youth just brings us a new spirit. It’s a brand new year and a fresh start. I’ve been surprised how well they’ve worked together. It’s been fun.”
The Salthawks’ freshman phenom Jordan Downing is powerful with the ball with great ball control and speed. She beat a defender and goalie Shaelah White for Hutchinson’s first goal off a perfect pass by Erinn Penny after eight minutes. Bullpup defenders Tanner Hein and Ashton Bruner overplayed Downing to her dominant right side the rest of the game.
“Jordan Downing has great speed and she caught us off guard,” said Adrian. “We contained her after that. They are good and work the ball really well.”
Hutchinson started to take control in a physically rugged first half that saw four yellow cards passed out.
But the Salthawks stayed aggressive and exhibited terrific offensive balance. Penny scored off a deflection on a Downing shot for a 2-0 lead with 38:46 left in the second half. Molly Proffitt blasted a shot past White for the clincher with 22:05 left.
“It was our best effort because we controlled the ball and worked as a team,” Reeves said. “Our passing and spacing was better. We worked the ball better to the outside.”
Midfielder Penny sparked the offense with crisp passes that led to scoring opportunities. Only several timely saves by White and solid backline defense by Hein and Bruner prevented a larger margin of victory. Laura Sellers and Brittany McClelland also pressured the Bullpups’ defense.
McPherson (1-3) lost their team leader and sparkplug Colleen O’Connor, who broke her tibia and fibula in a collision with Hays’ goalie Laura Truman last week. Midfielder Hanna Williams (tendon) and Lisette Jaakola (blisters) also missed the game.
“That first half was the best we played all year,” Adrian said. “We were organized and worked together. The girls improved a lot and that’s what we’re looking to continue.”
Hutchinson defenders Kelsi Field and Carolina Reza paced the backline defense to help goalie Hannah Dejmal. Field checked Bruner several times defensively.
Bruner showed some flashes of end-to-end brilliance. She uses an athletic flip to put the ball in play several times and threw the ball past the goalie last week. Hailey Ruder missed the Bullpups’ best scoring chance when her point-blank attempt skipped up and over the goal.
McPherson plays at Derby Thursday. Hutchinson plays Goddard at home Thursday.