Girls varsity soccer bounces back strong to dominate Northview 8-0

Tommy Spaletto

More stories from Tommy Spaletto

Ally Francisco
May 22, 2020
Kelsey Toole
May 17, 2020
Aspen Strauss
April 29, 2020
Ella Kelly
April 24, 2020

Junior Kelsey Toole’s hat-trick was just the offensive spark the girls varsity soccer team needed, leading to an impressive 8-0 mercy win over the Northview Wildcats. With 3 goals in 19 minutes tonight, Kelsey has proven in the span of two games to be a reliable option on offense and a person FHC can count on for offensive production.

“[My mindset was] just to shoot when I had openings and to put the ball in the back of the net,” Kelsey said.

FHC started out the game hot, controlling the ball most of the time during the first few minutes of the game. The Lady Rangers got some early opportunities at the net, and the offense did a great job of putting pressure on the Wildcat goalie early on in the game. The first goal came off a corner kick from senior Grace Kline and senior captain Ashley Ward got the header to take a 1-0 lead.

Only a couple minutes later, Ashley would knock in another goal for the Lady Rangers, and the offense looked to have figured things out. Scoring her first couple goals since before Spring Break, Ashley looks to have gotten back into her groove offensively.

“Offensively, we knew we had to start connecting and finding feet better when balls came into the box,” Ashley said. “We had to put something on it and not let it drop, [which] is something we’ve been working on at practice.”

Sophomore Gwen Henderson had a great finish from the midfield, driving through many Northview defenders to score the third goal of the game in 21 minutes played. Freshman Lauren Koczenasz, who has also been a key factor offensively so far this season, put another goal in the back of the net to give FHC a strong 4-0 lead at the half. Head coach Ashley Ludtke reflects on her pre-game talk to the team to motivate a strong offensive start.

“[I told them to] be more consistent stringing passes together,” Ludtke said. “We’ve struggled keeping possession since Spring Break, so it was good to connect a lot of passes, play some simple, high-efficiency passes, and they can’t score when we have the ball. ”

Passing, indeed, was a strong reason why the Lady Rangers won by the amount that they did tonight. Junior captain Ally Francisco and sophomore Autumn Burns did a great job of creating space to find open players as well as finding holes in the Wildcat defense to give breakaway opportunities to the offense.

“One of our main focuses after the Gull Lake and Northern games was focusing on connecting on passes,” Ally said, “and that’s what I tried to do. I think I did a pretty good job finding feet and connecting outside.”

That passing led to another offensive explosion in the second half, where Kelsey would score all 3 of her goals to put the Wildcats away for good. These would be Kelsey’s 3 out of her 4 goals on the season, and what a way to do it by shutting the door on Northview.

While the offense played outstanding, the defense also played a phenomenal game as well. As junior Hannah Becker and senior Alexa Lauer split minutes tonight at goalie, each making some great saves, senior Chloe Grooters did a great job of preventing Northview players from even getting shots on goal.

“My mindset defensively was just to make sure everyone was organized and [make sure] we wouldn’t have any slip-ups like we have the past couple games,” Chloe said.

As time was winding down, Coach Ludtke was able to get a fresh 11 in the game for the Lady Rangers. Elisha Strawser would get the final goal with 17 minutes still remaining in the game, and FHC defeated the Wildcats 8-0.

The win tonight puts the Lady Rangers at 4-2 on the season and an even 1-1 in conference play. FHC will have another quick turnaround before a Friday night home game with the Cedar Spring Red Hawks. The Red Hawks defeated Tri-County Area in their last game 6-1, so defense will be an emphasis in Friday’s showdown.

As big as the defense will be, Ludkte believes it will be a game of possessions come Friday night.

“We do need to get better with keeping the ball in our possession,” Ludtke said. “Sometimes we are not making the best choices in our final third defensively and putting our back defenders against the wall and having to defend a ball that we played. So just making smarter choices defensively and then being effective once we possess the ball up to the final third and capitalizing on an opportunity we have in front of the net [will be key].”