Second-ranked Circle High School girls soccer beats Augusta 9-0
TOWANDA – Final exams aren’t for another month, but the Circle girls soccer team staged a Senior Showcase of its own Tuesday against visiting Augusta, cruising to a 9-0 victory.
Thunderbird seniors accounted for all of Circle’s goals, led by Brooklyn Hunter and Carsyn Soto with three goals apiece. Kenzi Gillespie and Lanna Chase, who were tennis standouts in the fall, scored two goals and one goal, respectively.
The seniors have been very important to Circle’s success, coach Andrew Stauffer said.
“They’ve been kind of the heart of the team,” he said. “It’s going to be sad next year. We’re going to miss them, for sure. They’ve been the heart of the team this year, with great leadership throughout.”
Circle (9-0), the second-ranked team in Class 4A, already has drawn a lot of attention. Add to that a mention last week on ESPN’s SportsCenter of a spectacular Hunter goal, and everything becomes amplified.
“That’s something I talked about to some of the players personally,” Stauffer said. “There’s definitely a big target on our back. It’s something that we talked about at halftime, also.”
That kind of attention means not letting your guard down and maintaining intensity, Stauffer said.
“Since we have a target on our back, (we need to) keep a high level of play and not drop down to anybody’s level,” he said.
Adding Gillespie and her freshman sister Kilar to an already-potent lineup was a pleasant surprise, Stauffer said.
“That was a shocker when they transferred in,” he said. “Their expertise and their leadership that they both bring into the game has helped us a lot.”
And, having a rare talent like Hunter working her magic on the field also is a key, he said.
“She is a special player,” Stauffer said. “You can’t replace a player (next year) like her. She’s got something special (and) she sees the field and knows the game very well.”
Soto is averaging about three goals a game, Stauffer said.
“That helps a lot,” he said. “She’s so dangerous on top and has so much speed that no back line can keep up with her.”
Much of the wind that hammered the area the past week had departed after the early morning snowfall, but cold temperatures remained.
However, Circle’s ability to find an open spot in the net remained consistent, and the game might have ended because of the mercy rule had it not been for spectacular goalkeeping by Orioles senior Kariana Thies.
Thanks to some sparkling saves by Thies, Augusta (3-8) lasted the entire 80 minutes against the Thunderbirds.
“She just knew exactly where to place herself in terms of positioning,” Stauffer said. “I don’t think I truly saw very many mistakes positioning-wise. So credit to her for holding the game on.”
But the Circle onslaught was so constant that even Thies couldn’t stop everything.
It did take the Thunderbirds some time to get started. Hunter notched the game’s first goal at the 24:39 mark of the first half. Soto scored twice within a span of 48 seconds late in the period for a 3-0 halftime lead.
“It took us awhile to figure out how to break through their high line,” Circle coach Andrew Stauffer said. “Once we did, it just opened up for us.”
The Thunderbirds were more efficient in the second half. Hunter scored just 3:56 into the period, and Chase got her goal just 1:11 later. Soto’s third goal at 6:18 and Gillespie’s first goal at 7:47 followed. Hunter got her third goal at the 24:22 mark, and Gillespie closed the scoring at the 32:11 mark.
Breezing to victory is nice, and it’s even nicer when it’s against a rival located less than 9 miles away. But Stauffer said he knows there are tough challenges on the horizon, including playing host to McPherson a week from Thursday and closing the season at Mulvane, which pounded McPherson on Tuesday, 10-0.
The Tuesday game was the first of four straight for the Thunderbirds at home. They will face Winfield on Thursday, followed by a Monday game against Wichita Classical School, and capped by the McPherson showdown.
Circle 9, Augusta 0
Goals: First half: 1. Circle, Hunter (Soto), 24:39; 2. Circle, Soto (Ki. Gillespie), 37:59; 3. Circle, Soto (Hunter), 38:47; Second half: 4. Circle, Hunter (Ki. Gillespie), 3:56; 5. Circle, Chase (unassisted), 5:07; 6. Soto (Hunter), 6:18; 7. Ke. Gillespie (Hunter), 7:47; 8. Hunter (Ke. Gillespie), 24:22; 9. Ke. Gillespie (Mollhagen), 32:11.