No doubt, any soccer team always wants to score on its first shot.
Meghan Kahnle achieved the feat twice on Saturday afternoon, as the freshman forward scored on the first shot to start both the game and second half to put North Idaho College on track to a 3-0 victory against WNCC in the final game of its Labor Day Classic at Edmonds Sports Complex.
Kahnle scored in the fourth minute to give North Idaho a 1-0 lead that stood at halftime and her second goal 40 seconds into the second half put the Cardinals in the driver's seat in a matchup between first-year Scenic West Athletic Conference teams.
"We didn't have our A game coming out today," WNCC coach Hillary Arthur said. "You can't do that against a team like NIC because they're quick to get a man on the ball."
The loss was the first for the WNCC Wildcats (2-1-1), who tied Feather River 0-0 in their other tournament game on Thursday.
"I think, this being our first year, we're still learning to play together. The other thing, we're still learning to find that drive and intensity we need to start the game instead of waiting 10 to 15 minutes to get going."
Likewise, North Idaho (3-1) is a young team that has 15 freshmen on its roster of 20 players.
"It was good to come down here and play a couple of games. That's what I'm looking for right now, just to play and let everyone get to know each other," North Idaho coach Dan Hogan said.
Kahnle scored on a baseline drive from the left side to start things off. Then, moments after the second half kickoff, the Cardinals made it 2-0 behind their Hamilton High School (Montana) connection, as Kahnle took a downfield pass from Whitney Melton for a breakaway goal.
"That always helps to score on your first shot," Hogan said. "That gave us some confidence."
Melton scored the final goal when she drove downfield and then around goalkeeper Lisa Berryman to create an open shot in the 59th minute.
Statistically, North Idaho outshot WNCC 12-8 in the game. Makayla Desjarlais, the Cardinals' freshman goalkeeper, was credited with five saves. WNCC's Rachelle Goulet had three saves in the first half and Berryman had two saves in the second.
WNCC was hindered defensively by the loss of sweeper Dominique Gloude, who started and played 10 minutes before she departed with a groin injury that she sustained in the second half of Thursday's game against Feather River.
"That really hurt us because Dominique is our quarterback," Arthur said. "She organizes the whole team out there and fires everyone else up."
Melissa Goldfin moved from her regular midfield position to fill in at sweeper and played well, according to Arthur, who also pointed to a solid defensive performance on the left side by Melyssa Docchio.
Offensively, the Wildcats showed some flashes in getting off four shots in the second half - two by Courtney Hayes, one by Sabrina Cantrell and one on an indirect kick by Jessica Maule. Kristan Hale, who is playing soccer for the first time since her senior year at Carson High two years ago, created another opportunity midway through the second half when she took the ball on a long downfield run, but was unable to get off a shot against a trio of North Idaho defenders.
"Kristan gave us some high pressure and caused some turnovers on their defensive third of the field, unfortunately, we weren't able to capitalize," Arthur said.
The Wildcats and Cardinals will play again in a regular season conference match on Oct. 8 in Coeur D Alene.
"They're pretty good, we just had some better opportunities today," Hogan said. "They'll give us a tougher game next time."
Arthur is counting on that.
"Everything will come together," she said. "I think everybody needs a good reality check like we had today. This lets you know that nothing is going to be given to you. You have to go out and work hard to earn it."
WNCC makes its conference debut Thursday with a 3:30 p.m. contest against perennial power Dixie State College at Edmonds Sports Complex.
n Contact Dave Price at email@example.com or call 881-1220.