Courtney Hayes blasted in an early goal to end a four-game scoring drought and put the WNCC soccer team on track to a 2-0 victory against Southern Idaho Sunday in Twin Falls.
Hayes gathered in a deflected ball, touched the ball once and then drilled a 20-yarder in the third minute to give WNCC a lead it never relinquished. Kristan Hale added an insurance goal in the 15th minute and the Wildcats went on to post a nonconference win that improved their season record to 3-2-2.
It marked the first win for WNCC since winning two straight to start the season in Eureka, Calif., On Aug. 27-28. They had been 0-2-2 and scoreless since that time, so coach Hillary Arthur was obviously pleased with Sunday's performance.
"We played really well today," Arthur said. "It was a tremendous improvement over our last game (0-0 tie against Salt Lake Community College on Friday). It's good to see the team progressing."
It was certainly good to see a goal, especially early in the game.
"I always stress the importance of scoring early, just to get some momentum under us," Arthur said of the goal by Hayes, a Carson High graduate. "That was a tremendous lift for the whole team."
Hale, another product of Carson High, kept the momentum going when she got the ball off Demi Vega's free kick from outside the 18-yard box and struck a high ball that cleared the goalkeeper's hands into the back of the net.
That was more than enough support for WNCC goalkeepers Lisa Berryman and Rachelle Goulet, who each spent one half in the net. This was Goulet's first action since she sustained a hyperextended knee against Dixie State College on Sept. 8.
"They had some one-on-one opportunities and both of our keepers did a great job of coming out and getting on top of the ball," Arthur said.
While the Wildcats have been hindered by a rash of early-season injuries - they finished Friday's game in Salt Lake City with 11 players available - there have been some highlights coming off the bench. Among those, Dayton's Sabrina Cantrell played well from her left midfield position on Sunday, according to Arthur.
"Sabrina played almost the entire second half and she did a great job," the coach said. "She was getting out wide and providing options for outlet passes on offense, and she did a great job of transitioning as far as getting back on defense and stopping their attack on our left side."
WNCC, 0-2 in the Scenic West Athletic Conference, return to action on Sept. 30 with a match against conference power Dixie State College in St. George, Utah. Dixie State defeated WNCC 6-0 on Sept. 8 in Carson City.
The Wildcats are 3-0-1 on the road so far this season.