By Brad Fauber - email@example.com
STEPHENS CITY -- Although it was senior night for Sherando's girls soccer team, it was a pair of freshman that provided three first-half goals in the Warriors 4-0 shutout victory over Northwestern District foe Skyline on Tuesday.
Freshman Audra Sites scored a pair of goals for the Warriors, and classmate Katie Miller added a goal late in the opening half to help lead Sherando (2-9-2, 2-4-1 Northwestern) to its first victory since April 10.
But that's not to say that the upperclassmen were nonexistent -- Warriors senior Kelsi Sillars played a direct hand in each of Sites' goals as Sillars finished the evening with a pair of assists.
"We came out and we played as a team," Sillars said. "We focused on passing, we focused on going to goal, making runs, marking up -- all of that stuff. I think we really were able to think about that clearly while we were playing."
Sherando, which fell 1-0 to the Hawks (2-11-1, 1-5) in the first meeting between the two teams on April 16, seemed intent to not let history repeat itself as the Warriors unleashed a barrage of attacks early, tallying five shots on goal in the match's first 10 minutes.
The Warriors finally broke through in the 14th minute as Sillars sent a perfect corner kick to Sites in the middle of the penalty area, and Sites followed with an equally perfect header into the back of the net to give Sherando a 1-0 lead.
"We've been practicing that play almost every practice," Sites said. "Today, the ball -- it was perfect, so I just put my head on it as hard as I could and it went in."
"We set Audra right in the middle, so I just try to make it so that her run is equal to my timing," Sillars said. "I guess we just timed it really well today and got it off."
The duo wasted little time before they struck again as Sillars once again found Sites with a pass into the penalty box, and Sites converted the 15-yard shot to give Sherando a 2-0 lead in the 18th minute.
"It being senior night, I think the seniors stepped up and really set the standard. Kelsi Sillars was outstanding tonight, I thought she was fantastic," Warriors coach Rob Kilmer said. "She set the tone tonight, and she was huge for us."
Miller got into the scoring act in the 28th minute when a Skyline player was called for shoving, setting up a free kick attempt for Sherando from 20 yards out. Miller converted the shot, her first career goal, to push the advantage to 3-0 heading into halftime.
For Skyline, it was a struggle the entire match to put any kind of consistent attacks together. The Hawks had some opportunities, tallying 10 shots for the game, but the Warriors held solid possession for most of the match.
"We weren't able to possess the ball, that's all there was to it," said Hawks coach John Moore. "We weren't stepping in front -- we weren't winning the ball."
Sherando finished with 22 shots for the game, 12 of which came in the first 40 minutes of action. Warriors keeper Maribeth Stotler-Watkins had seven saves.
Makaila Colley and Kayla Williams split the goalkeeper duties for Skyline. Colley had three saves in the first half, and Williams had six in the second half.
The Hawks were able to shut down Sherando's attacks for much of the second half as the Warriors were held scoreless for the first 34 minutes of the half.
Warriors senior Erica Pangburn capped the victory with a 22-yard shot that found the back of the net in the 74th minute. It was her first career goal at the varsity level.
"[Pangburn] has a fantastic shot. She had a couple chances, and that's when I was like, 'Let it go, take a chance and you'll be amazed at what you do,'" said Kilmer. "And she hit one -- what a great hit. It was good for her to do that."