With its loftiest goals still ahead, the Venice girls soccer team was looking to make a statement in its regional quarterfinals game against Fort Myers.
Starting with a goal from Rachel Dalton from about 25 yards out in the fifth minute, the Lady Indians wasted no time putting their dominance on full display — steamrolling the Green Wave for a 9-0 mercy-rule victory at Powell-Davis Stadium on Tuesday night.
“The past few weeks, we’ve definitely been working on coming out in your face in a dominating style of play,” Venice associate head coach Lynley Hilligoss said. “It’s the playoffs. You have to be ready to start when that first whistle blows.
“The finishing and the display that we put on today is just absolutely exciting. I’m so excited.”
Once the first of Dalton’s three goals ricocheted off the hands of the Fort Myers goalkeeper and found the back of the net, freshman Victoria Gaona headed in another goal, but it was called back for an offsides call.
However, that wouldn’t deter Venice (18-0-1) as freshman Audrey Ayette scored off a corner kick just three minutes later. Another minute later, sophomore Kiki Slattery scored directly off a corner kick and the rout was on.
Fort Myers (13-6-3) recorded its first shot of the night after it was already trailing, 3-0, but wouldn’t take another shot until the very last minute of the game.
By the time the first half water break rolled around, another goal by Slattery and Dalton’s second goal of the night had the Indians up 5-0.
“Probably after the fourth goal,” Hilligoss said of when she knew Venice had the game in hand. “I never want to take things for granted. I’m a one step at a time type of coach, and that’s one thing we were focusing on: One game at a time. It’s easy to look ahead and see what’s going on, but I definitely wanted to make a statement tonight.”
Coming out of the water break, Venice kept attacking.
Junior Kat Jordan notched the first of her two goals in the first minute out of the break, sending the ball to the goalkeeper’s far right side of the net.
To finish off the onslaught, Dalton and Slattery each completed their hat tricks on the night and Jordan added a second goal.
With Venice leading, 9-0, and holding a 19-2 shot advantage, the Indians simply had to wait until halftime to officially secure the victory.
Going forward, the Indians will advance to the 4A Region-3 semifinal on Friday against Braden River at Powell-Davis Stadium for a rematch of the district championship game.
“I mean we didn’t expect to win this big,” Slattery said of Tuesday night’s mercy-rule win. “We’re hoping to go to states, and hopefully win states, but we’re taking it one game at a time.”