Arnold hat trick leads Vikings past BearcatsPublished 9:33pm Monday, May 20, 2013
Niles High School girls soccer player Alexis Arnold showed off her right leg in Monday’s second round Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference Tournament game against Battle Creek Central.
Arnold recorded a hat trick to lead the Vikings to an 8-0 Senior Day win over the Bearcats. It’s the first career hat trick for Arnold, who came into Monday’s match with three goals on the season. The eight goals is a season-high in a match for Niles, which improved to 5-12.
“We had a lot of energy as a team,” said Arnold, who’s a junior. “We needed this win because our season hasn’t been going very well. Hopefully, this will give us a positive lift going into districts.”
Arnold’s first goal gave Niles a 1-0 lead with 15:47 left in the first half. The shot came from 25 yards and went through the hands of Battle Creek Central goalie Cori Pike. It was the 10th shot in the first half for the Vikings.
Arnold’s second goal came from 40 yards with 3:01 left in the first half. That score gave Niles a 4-0 halftime. The other goals in the first half came from Sasha Zidar and Haley Akey. Arnold assisted on Akey’s goal.
The hosts owned a commanding 18-3 edge on shots on goal over the first 40 minutes.
“(Arnold) played really well,” said Niles coach Jo Schau. “But in terms of distributing the ball sometimes we need to be a little bit more patient instead of trying to play up and over and putting the ball up in the air and trying to find somebody’s foot. At halftime, we talked about settling it down and making sure we were connecting through our team and not just playing 1-on-1.”
The Viking players seemed even sharper in the second half after listening to their coach at halftime. Jenna McAllister, Taylor Hess, Chelsea Best and Arnold scored in the second half for Niles. Arnold’s goal from 25 yards gave Niles an 8-0 lead with 4:31 left in the match and a mercy-rule win.
Battle Creek Central continued its season-long struggle, falling to 1-14.
Schau was asked if she expected such an easy win over the Bearcats.
“You don’t know,” Schau said. “Sometimes, depending on your pace of play, you can kind of mellow out right with your opponent. We sort of did that in the first half. We’ve had trouble finishing all year so we never know what kind of goals we’re going to get in the back of the net. I’m proud of our team in finding that connection today.”
The Vikings had all 15 shots in the second half.
Niles used four goalies in the match. Nemeth started in the match and was relieved by Gladys Magana in the first half. Haley Rough and Katelyn Smuda were in goal during the second half for the Vikings.
“We put the (goalie) uniform out there and the girls stepped up respectfully so our senior goalie (Nemeth) could have some time on the field,” Schau said.
Magana made a great save on a 10-yard breakaway shot from Battle Creek Central’s Alyssa Edwards with :25 left in the first half.
“That was awesome,” Schau said. “She’s played some as a goalie indoors for us for the St. Joseph Kicker’s Club. None of the other girls (besides Nemeth) had played goalie before. The only thing they knew about the position is that they could use their hands.”
Niles 4, Central 0
N – Arnold 15:47
N –Sasha Zidar 11:33
N – Haley Akey (Arnold assist) 6:29
N – Arnold 3:01
N – Jenna McAllister (Katie Holmes asist) 25:00
N – Taylor Hess (Eva Nemeth assist) 21:17
N – Chelsea Best (Abigail Gaines assist) 4:51
N – Arnold 4:31
Shots on goal
Niles 33, Battle Creek Central 2
Eva Nemeth (N) 1, Gladys Magana (N) 1, Haley Rough (N) 0, Katelyn Smuda (N) 0, Cori Pike (BCC) 16, Heaven Atcher (BCC) 2
Niles 11. Battle Creek Central 1