It had been 21 days since the Venice girls soccer team last played a game, but the Lady Indians didn’t miss a beat in their return to action on Tuesday night.

Beginning with a looping strike for a goal from midfielder Rachel Dalton in the first two minutes, Venice was in control against Charlotte at Powell-Davis Stadium.

Dalton’s goal, the first of three, was followed by 23 minutes of scoreless soccer until the Indians truly got in rhythm. In the final 15 minutes of the half, Venice unleashed four goals on its way to a 5-0 halftime lead and a 7-0 win over the Tarpons.

For Venice (11-0), the three-week break wasn’t an issue as the Indians got plenty of work in during their “time off.”

“The girls who were in town have been working hard,” Venice coach Gary Bolyard said of what his team did over Winter break. “We practiced every other day. We had some fun and had a 3 v 3 tournament. It was nice.”

While Venice wound up with seven goals on the scoreboard, the eighth goal was there for the taking. The Indians peppered the Tarpons’ side of the field with 38 shots and 24 shots on goal, giving themselves plenty of chances to put the game away early.

When it came to answering Venice’s scores, Charlotte had trouble matching the Indians’ speedy attack. The Tarpons finished the game with just three shots, with two of them on goal. Each shot came off a free kick, and only one threatened to go in the net as Venice goalkeeper Ashton Pennell leapt high in the air to knock the ball over the net at the last second.

Though the Tarpons allowed five first-half goals, some more spirited defense and eight saves from goalkeeper Eva Le helped Charlotte avoid a second consecutive mercy-rule loss to the Indians.

“I wanted them to understand that you don’t have to finish the same way you start,” Charlotte coach Amanda Carr said of her team. “We don’t have to be the same team we were at the beginning. We’re on our way up because we were mercy-ruled by them and now we held them to an honest 7-0 game.

“I’m very proud of our girls. I’m proud of them for controlling their emotions and not just letting a 5-0 just completely collapse them. We stayed strong not only physically, but emotionally, and that’s what I asked of them.”

When it was all said and done, Dalton scored three times, Mason Schilling scored twice, and Kat Jordan and Madelyn Krause each added a goal as well.

With Venice leading 7-0 for the final 20+ minutes, the Indians had multiple opportunities to close the game out, with shots missing just high from Jordan and Dalton.

However, despite not finishing with the mercy-rule, Venice allowed one shot and no shots on goal in the second half, allowing themselves to cruise to an 11th straight win.

“Venice is respectable,” Carr said. “So when we show up here we respect the talent, we respect the coaches and we respect the players. They’re a very classy team, and they’re obviously talented. So when you combine those things, there’s nothing to hate about Venice. Only things to admire and aspire to be. That’s what makes Venice challenging. There’s so much respect for them, but at the same time, we have to keep them honest.”

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