By Kai Raymer (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
After a pregame weather delay, there was still more lightning to come.
Courtesy of Brinn Cooper and Kaleia Huttenlocher.
Catholic’s top two scorers teamed up for an onslaught of goals late in the first half in Saturday’s Class 2 sectional against Southern Boone County.
They accounted for three goals in a two-minute span. Catholic ultimately prevailed 5-0 to advance in the Class 2 state soccer tournament.
The Irish travel to Pleasant Hill on Wednesday for a quarterfinals match.
“To follow up (the first goal) almost immediately with two more goals, it took a lot of pressure off,” said Irish coach Ben Timson. “We could relax and play a little.”
Cooper, a Drury signee and three-time all-state selection, was devastating in the midfield. She capped off a hat trick with a goal in the 64th minute, and also had assists on Catholic’s other two goals.
Cooper has a team-high 30 goals on the season.
“She was a huge factor for us,” Timson said. “We need her to step up at this time of year, and she did.”
Catholic’s first goal, in the 36th minute, was the most spectacular one of the match.
Cooper played a ball to Huttenlocher in the middle. The junior shredded SBC’s defense by juking multiple defenders to gain a clean look at the net.
“I was going to go out wide, but I saw if I went middle it was a better opportunity,” Huttenlocher said. “So I cut one way, went the other, then I cut it again to get around the second defender and then shot it.”
Seconds later, Huttenlocher returned the favor. She found a wide-open Cooper in the middle. Cooper didn’t need long to finish the opportunity.
“That’s what we work on in warmups and in practice all the time – going down the middle then slotting it back toward someone,” Cooper said. “I was just there.”
A minute later, Cooper converted a penalty kick after drawing a foul in the box.
From a scoreless tie to a 3-0 Catholic lead in only two minutes.
“I think they were done by then,” Cooper said.
Goalkeeper Ellie Palmer and speedy center back Kaitlin Kentzke helped Catholic (20-6-1 overall) earn its fifth straight shutout and 12th overall for the season.
“Kaitlin’s a terrific athlete in the back for us,” Timson said. “She’s an eraser.”
The Irish haven’t conceded a goal since a 3-0 road loss at Ozark on May 3.
In the 20th minute, Palmer came up with the save on a 1-v-1 with SBC’s Koyia Prince.
“That was big, because if you go down 1-0, the mind starts playing tricks on you and you start pressing,” Timson said.
Catholic controlled possession early on, but with SBC loading up in the middle of the field, the Irish went wide.
“It just happened to work out for us – multiple times,” Cooper said.
Catholic’s quarterfinal opponent, Pleasant Hill (16-8 overall), beat Father Tolton Catholic (5-17-1 overall) 4-0 on Saturday.
Catholic 5, Southern Boone County 0
SBC 0 0 — 0
Catholic 3 2 — 5
Catholic – Huttenlocher (Cooper assist) 36’
Catholic – Cooper (Huttenlocher assist) 37’
Catholic – Cooper (penalty kick) 38’
Catholic – Stickney (Cooper assist) 58’
Catholic – Cooper 64’