HURRICANE — Once Hurricane got the ball rolling in its season opener Friday night, there was no stopping the Redskins.
Seniors Abby Watson and Audrey Barber tallied two goals apiece as Hurricane dominated Wheeling Park for a 6-0 victory in front of about 100 fans.
The matchup of Class AAA girls high school state-ranked soccer teams from last season was moved to the Redskins’ turf football field because of excessive rain and repairs to the soccer field’s sod. Since football practice was still taking place, the move delayed the start of the match by 30 minutes, and lighting pushed back the start another 30 minutes just before team introductions.
The wait didn’t seem to dampen Hurricane’s energy or spirit as the Redskins scored their first three goals in the opening half’s first 20 minutes.
“We were just playing hard and trying our best to get to every ball,’’ said Watson, who has verbally committed to the University of Charleston for basketball and track and field. “I think it kind of stings getting knocked out three years in a row in the sectionals so we realize what we need to do and let’s not mess around.’’
Watson scored the first goal less than eight minutes in and the rout was on. Redskins sophomore Taylor Walroth’s pass ahead bounced over Park sophomore keeper Nicole Conway and Watson chased it down to finish off the play.
Senior Kayla McKnight and junior Anna Dyer put Hurricane in front 2-0 less than four minutes later. Dyer sent in a crossing pass from the left to the right post and Conway, who finished with two saves, tried to head off the play but couldn’t come up with the ball, leaving the net wide open for McKnight.
Freshman Makenna Slack scored on an assist from senior Allison Clay to give the Redskins a 3-0 edge just past the halfway point of the opening half. Watson added another goal late in the second half and Barber netted the last two to punctuate the win. Hurricane senior keeper Hannah Thompson made five stops to preserve the shutout.
“I’m really happy with the improvement they’ve made on set plays, the chemistry I’m seeing out of the girls and the work rate,’’ said Hurricane coach Shelly Young. “We definitely came out stronger than we did last season. Much more cohesive and focused.’’
Hurricane, which finished with a 15-2-3 overall record last year and was third in the final state coaches association rankings, has the unenviable task of occupying the same sectional as Winfield, the two-time defending state champion which has ended the Redskins’ season the past three years.
So the Redskins felt a need to shake things up this season and for the first time worked out together on their own over the summer.
“We talked a lot better,’’ Watson said of the communication on the field Friday. “We’re more familiar with each other. We’ve shown improvement. We’re two months ahead of everyone else.’’
Hurricane’s play Friday made an impression on Park assistant coach Corey Kidd, who was filling in for head coach Luke Hladek. Park was eighth in the 2013 final rankings.
“I’m not sure we were prepared for the intensity,’’ said Kidd, whose team made the nearly three-hour drive to Hurricane on Friday. “The ball was moving extremely quick. The first 15 [minutes] were rough for us.
“Once we calmed down we started playing our game and doing a lot better. For having such a young team and several freshmen on it, we did as good as we kind of expected for right now. It’s something for us to learn from and now we know what we need to work on.’’
Park won’t have much time to catch its breath as it is scheduled to take on Winfield today.
Reach Tommy R. Atkinson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-4811.