So often, soccer teams take the field looking to get an early goal. St. Charles East took that state of mind to a nearly ridiculous extreme on Saturday, scoring not just an early goal but three goals in the opening 3:23 to set the Saints on their way to a 4-2 victory over Batavia.
"That was awesome," St. Charles East junior Shannon Rasmussen said. "We knew we had to come out strong and play with the wind, because we had the wind in the first half. Everyone said this was a big game because it's our first conference game so getting the three early goals really helped set us up."
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The opening triple salvo moved St. Charles East (3-1, 1-0) to a comfortable victory in the Upstate Eight Conference River Division opener for both teams.
The initial goals with a strong wind behind the Saints' backs and came in a span of just 86 seconds.
"We knew that the team that got the wind in the first half, that was going to be a big difference," St. Charles East coach Paul Jennison said.
Anna Corirosi scored the first goal following a Darcy Cunningham corner kick. The ball came to the far post, was flicked on and Corirosi scored from inside the six-yard box 1:57 into the match.
Carly Pottle doubled the lead 44 seconds later with a right-to-left shot that crept in at the left post. Amanda Hilton completed the tornadic opening when she headed in a Cunningham left wing corner kick.
"They were set plays," Batavia coach Mark Gianfrancesco said. "The wind had a factor. We didn't challenge in there and didn't clear the ball and they put the ball in the back of the net. What are you going to do?"
Though Batavia solidified defensively, St. Charles East dominated the first half. Rasmussen hit the cross bar with a free kick after 13 minutes and Juliana Harmon shot into the side netting after 25 minutes. Hannah Rawson forced a save from Batavia keeper Nicki Seiton with 11 minutes left in the half.
"You don't want to be defending or chasing a small scoreline, especially with a wind this strong," Jennison said. "These girls, their work in the half was relentless. Obviously we put ourselves in a good spot in the first 5 minutes to be 3-0 up. It certainly makes it a lot easier."
Against that, Batavia's best chance of the opening half from a Kim Stanczak corner kick from which Karina Rosales forced a save from Kendra Sheehan.
St. Charles East advanced its lead to 4-0 10 minutes into the second half when a Carly Pottle shot wasn't cleared and fell to Sam Lombardo, who scored.
Batavia (2-1-2, 0-1), with the wind at its back in the second half, rallied. First a Brittany Whalen flip throw-in was headed in by Megan McEachern at nearly the midpoint of the half.
Shelby Stone cut the lead further with 2:45 to play when she took a long free kick that went off the Saints keeper's hands into the net. While they never got fully back into the game, the Bulldogs outscored the Saints in the second half and were able to take positives from the match.
"Our girls gritted it out," Gianfrancesco said. "The first thing I told them when we brought it in after the match was that we won the second half 2-1. I didn't see anybody give up. We panicked a little after the second and third goal. They definitely came back and played harder in the second half and were more composed."