Not even the coolest night of the season, so far, was able to put a chill in the Venice High girls soccer team.
The Indians made their first game of the season at Powell-Davis Stadium a memorable one as they blew past district rival Palmetto, 8-0.
Mason Schilling sealed the match in the seventh minute of the second half when she tapped the ball into the Tigers net from just a few feet away. For Schilling, it was her third goal of the night.
The mercy-rule win keeps Venice’s record perfect at 5-0 while it recorded its first win (1-0) in district 4A-11. Palmetto’s season mark slipped to 1-1, 0-1.
The Indians overwhelmed the Tigers with superior speed, especially in the offensive zone. Venice had several goals and shots-on-goal that resulted in a one-on-one contest with the Tigers goalie.
In the 10th minute, Rachel Dalton scored on a penalty kick after she was taken down inside the box.
Three minutes later, Kat Jordan did most of the heavy lifting on the Indians’ second net bender. After picking up the ball about 40 yards from the Palmetto net, she dribbled up the middle of the field. When she was 20 yards out, She let it rip. She flexed the net high in the left corner.
“I dribbled up and when I shot, I was looking for the corner of the net,” Jordan said. “I hit the spot pretty much where I was aiming.”
After the game, Jordan was presented with a deflated, caved-in ball that looks like a bad hat. For the Indians, it’s a symbol of honor and is awarded to the best player of each game. Sometimes that honor is easier to determine than others. There were many stars in this game.
Victoria Gaona scored the Indians’ third goal. After taking a pass from Dalton, Gaona turned on the jets and had Palmetto’s goalie Amaya Birtcher in an impossible position. Having outraced the defense, Gaona slid the ball past Birtcher. Dalton finished her night with a goal and three assists.
While Birtcher made several outstanding saves during the contest, she was often at the mercy of the Indians speed. Schilling had Birtcher at her mercy on the fourth goal. After Dalton fed Schilling with a long pass up the middle, Schilling raced through the defense and had most of the net to shoot at.
She didn’t miss.
In the 25th minute, Jordan netted her second goal when she converted a pass from Maddy Krause. After taking the feed, Jordan wheeled and fired. With her left foot, she slammed one off a diving Birtcher.
Schilling used her speed again for her second goal following another long pass. This time the assist came from Jordan. Again, Schilling proved too fast for the Palmetto defense. Her second goal gave Venice a 6-0 halftime lead.
Lost in all the outstanding play was an often-lonely Venice goalkeeper, Ashton Pennell. She has not surrendered a goal in 299 minutes, and has let in only two goals in five games. She has recorded four straight shutouts. Though Venice has now scored 29 unanswered goals, she has always been ready to make the save.
“It’s not hard seeing most of the play at the other end. I feel like I’m always there when they need me,” said Pennell. “I make sure that I talk to my defense a lot and watch the game to see that everyone is in the right position. I always keep my head in the game and I’m ready for whatever happens.”
Three minutes into the second half, Kiki Slattery tapped in a short goal from in close. She was set up by Karina Diaz. Schilling hit the game winner four minutes later.
Venice will face its second district opponent on Thursday at Powell-Davis Stadium when Braden River comes to town with a scheduled 6 p.m. start.