HURRICANE — A brief delay interrupted the second half of Tuesday night’s game at Hurricane as a pair of bats swooped down, landed on the field and refused to move.
Even for half-blind creatures of the night, Redskins girls soccer games have become must-see events.
That continued in a big way on Tuesday as Hurricane blitzed visiting Ripley with two goals in the opening five minutes and the Redskins never slowed down, pulling away for an eventual 7-0 win on senior night.
Its been a familiar story for the defending Class AAA champions, who have outscored opponents by a staggering margin of 84-1 in storming out to a 15-0 start this season.
“We looked at our personnel coming in and we thought we’d be a good team,” Hurricane coach Shelly Young said. “But it all depends on the players’ dedication and willingness to come back every day and try to improve. Being coachable and wanting to be good and having fun, that makes a big difference. You can have all the talent in the world and have players that don’t want to be there and aren’t coachable and it won’t make a difference.”
Combining superior ability with palpable team chemistry, the Redskins have been dominant on the scoreboard but it’s also a brand of soccer that’s aesthetically pleasing to the eye.
Sophomore striker Bailey Fisher, last year’s Kanawha Valley Rookie of the Year and a first-team All-State selection, had five of Hurricane’s tallies on Tuesday and that, too, is nothing new.
Fisher has waged an all-out assault on the record books this season. After her performance on Tuesday, she sits just eight goals behind the unofficial single-season record for goals scored. That mark is 59 set by PikeView’s Laura Hill in 2012.
Typically reserved in postgame comments, Fisher didn’t shy away from a question about her knowledge of the record after Tuesday’s win.
“Yeah, it was my goal at the end of summer when I started the season,” Fisher said.
“It’s really driving her,” Young added. “But I’m glad to see her come out and distribute to her teammates and play unselfish offense.”
Fisher had an assist on a goal scored by senior Dani Ray as Hurricane found the net six times in the opening half.
Ray is an interesting story as well. She too was a Kanawha Valley Rookie of the Year (2016) but sat out her sophomore and junior seasons to focus on running cross country. Ray returned to the pitch this season and filled into the hole left by graduated senior Sydney Wheeler at the front of Hurricane’s attack.
On Tuesday, the rapport Fisher and Ray have developed — along with freshman Lauren Dye — was on full display. Ray’s speed on the outside led to countless crosses into the box, and her 16 assists (two on Tuesday) lead the team.
“It’s been really good chemistry,” Young said. “We’ve been working a lot on offensive chemistry, passing, runs off the ball and I think they really showed that today.”
While the scoring is glamorous, the play of Hurricane’s defensive unit has been just as stellar. Yielding one goal through 15 games is one thing, but with the speed of Ray and the ability of Fisher, Hurricane’s defense can often lead to instant offense as kicks from the back find the streaking feet of the Redskins’ potent strikers.
That happened on Hurricane’s third goal on Tuesday as a Ripley run was stopped and, before the Vikings could cover, Fisher was sprinting toward the goal with possession and a one-on-one opportunity against Ripley goalkeeper Ashley Craigo. The way Fisher is going, there are few if any keepers that can win that battle right now.
That unit is also quite young, spearheaded by freshman Madison Francis along with juniors Maddy Mayberry, Abby Fowler and Sydnee Bell. All that in front of junior goalkeeper Olivia Bird, who registered her 14th shutout on Tuesday, tops in the Kanawha Valley.
“They really have done a great job,” Young said. “We’ve got a freshman back there, three juniors, our goalie is a junior and two defensive [midfielders] that are freshman and they’ve done a great job.”
Polly Rossander had the other goal for Hurricane as the Redskins outshot Ripley (6-3-4) 12-4.