A soggy playing field, chilly conditions and only one outdoor preseason practice could have formed an ugly trifecta for Batavia High School's 2014 girls soccer opener Tuesday night.
But you never would have suspected that the Bulldogs faced any of these challenges by the way they played. Batavia erupted for four goals in the first 21 minutes, 53 seconds of the first half en route to a 5-0 nonconference victory over Plainfield Central at Bulldog Stadium.
The win was just Batavia's second appearance on an outdoor field this cold weather-marred season, but the Bulldogs didn't seem adversely affected by the muddy grass field or the dearth of 11-on-11 practice time.
"I thought we did well," coach Mark Gianfrancesco said. "I was happy with the way we moved the ball around. We have some things to work on, but overall I was happy with the result."
Batavia's game plan was to attack Plainfield Central's young squad -- the Wildcats start seven underclassmen -- from the outset. The Bulldogs accomplished this mission primarily behind their standout junior core. Batavia grabbed a 1-0 lead when junior forward Karina Rosales eluded a defender, then kicked the ball past Plainfield goalkeeper Tiffany Lenza with 35:13 remaining in the first half.
The hosts scored again seven minutes later when junior midfielder Alexis Bryl penetrated the Wildcats' defense and found the net with 27:52 left.
Four minutes later, freshman midfielder Mackenzie Foster found Olivia Callipari with a cross kick a few feet in front of the net, and the junior forward punched the ball in for a 3-0 edge.
Batavia capped its first-half onslaught when Rosales hit Callipari in stride with a perfect pass in front of the goal, and Callipari delivered a kick to the back of the net for her second score and a 4-0 advantage.
The Bulldogs spent most of the first half attacking Plainfield's side of the field, firing 14 shots on goal to the Wildcats' one.
"They came out aggressively at us," said Plainfield Central coach Ken Schoen, whose own team practiced once outdoors, on a band field, prior to Tuesday's game. "I don't think our girls were ready for their level of speed, size and skill. We started three sophomores and four freshmen. I knew there would be some things to work on with so many girls new to the varsity level, especially since Batavia has so much size, speed and skill all over the field."
Batavia capped its scoring four minutes into the second half. Rosales tallied her second goal of the game, kicking the ball into the corner of the net on a breakaway.
The Bulldogs have high hopes for the Upstate Eight Conference River Division and the postseason with a strong junior nucleus returning after a 13-5-2 season in 2013. Tuesday's victory was a good tuneup for Batavia's first key test of the season. The Bulldogs are scheduled to host Wheaton Warrenville South on Saturday, though Gianfrancesco said the game might be moved to South depending on the condition of Batavia's field. The weather forecast calls for rainstorms later this week. Unlike Bulldog Stadium, Wheaton Warrenville South's soccer field is on field turf.
"The field held up pretty well tonight," Gianfrancesco said. "There were a couple of spots that were soft, but overall it was OK."
Batavia defeated WW South 2-0 in last year's meeting in Wheaton. The Tigers went on to win their 16th regional title over York.