Junior Emma Padgett scored her first career hat trick to lead the Big Walnut girls soccer team to a 7-0 victory over visiting Teays Valley in the 2016 season opener Friday night in Sunbury.
The Golden Eagles struck for six second-half goals in a 17-minute stretch to take control after a slow start.
“A lot of (the problems in the first half) were communication,” Padgett said. “We really wanted to push up. When we relied on each other to help out, it really worked and it got us back into the game.”
Riley Bussen found Padgett on a long lead pass on the right side. Padgett maneuvered her way through the defense before beating the Viking goalie to the left to give the Eagles (1-0) a 1-0 lead with 30:20 left in the first half.
Padgett opened the second-half scoring with her second goal less than five minutes in, then assisted on Grace Bodker’s first goal at the 28:02 mark to push the lead to 3-0.
Padgett added her third goal with just under 23 minutes left to make it 5-0 and Bodker scored her second goal with about 18 minutes left.
Senior Hunter Maxeiner and Emily Neff rounded out the scoring for the Eagles.
Padgett made the move from sweeper to forward in the offseason.
“She hits the ball better than a lot of girls I’ve met at this age … she hits the ball better than a lot of guys at this age,” Big Walnut coach Drew Pitzer said. “It was a good move for her to move up top … obviously it’s paying off for us on the scoresheet.”
Padgett said she tried to do what annoyed her as a defender.
“It’s been beneficial for me because I know what I hate to defend,” she said.
BW had its opportunities in the first half, but had a hard time getting the ball past Teays Valley goalie Emily Boyd, who made 12 of her 20 saves in the first half.
“I think early on we had some first-game jitters,” Pitzer said. “We got to halftime, had a conversation, regrouped and played a lot better in the second half.”
BW kept control of the ball through much of the first half, but couldn’t stay onside. The Eagles were called offside 14 times in the first half.
“When a team plays a very flat (back) line, that’s going to happen,” Pitzer said. “It’s not something that you’re used to seeing — it’s not a widely used defensive formation. The girls weren’t paying attention to where they were on the field. It worked to our advantage once we figured it out.”
Boyd was just as much of a factor in keeping it close early for the Vikings (0-1).
BW sophomore Adelee Gartner found Bailey Bodker for a one-timer from in front, but Boyd made the save from point-blank range about 11 minutes into the game.
The Eagles had three chances on one possession with about five minutes left in the first half. Bailey Bodker posted a shot that Padgett recovered and fired. Boyd made the save on the Padgett shot and Mya Raser rebounded but fired wide.
BW is back in action at home against Watkins Memorial Tuesday night at 7:15 p.m.
Also: Dublin Jerome 2, Orange 1.
Big Walnut 4, Mount Vernon 1.
Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichdelgazette.