By Pedro Velazco
Logansport — Hamilton Southeastern’s girls soccer team had speed to burn. Wednesday night, that speed burned Kokomo in the opening round of the Class 2A Logansport Regional.
Class 2A No. 2-ranked Hamilton Southeastern scored its first goal in the fifth minute and with that, the Royals were on their way to a 6-0 victory.
“Their whole team’s tough,” Kokomo coach Myles Geary said. “They’ve got soccer speed and sometimes that’s hard to compete against because they move so well with and without the ball.”
The Royals (18-2-1) lost their first two games of the season and haven’t tasted defeat since. HSE spent a few minutes figuring out how to attack the Kats, then found space in midfield to launch attacks with sharp through balls and overlapping runs. Both took advantage of their speed up front.
HSE broke the seal on the scoreboard when they caught the Wildkat defense playing an offsides trap and flooded the Kat defensive zone. Molly Lear raced in from the left, turned a cross across the Kokomo goal and a Wildkat defender put the ball in for an own goal. Seven minutes later, a swift three-player move saw HSE double its lead when Brooke Barnes finished the break into an open net.
“It’s always our goal to try to come out and put enough pressure and put some goals away early to try and find the rhythm and set a tone, and we were fortunate to be able to do that,” HSE coach Greg Davidson said.
“We’re a fast team. [Kokomo] did a good job of being very disciplined and holding an offsides trap, and they caught us quite a bit. But we’re really fast. Sometimes, we were too fast [Wednesday] and got offsides, and sometimes we were smarter with our runs.”
Kokomo’s defense was able to lure HSE offsides several times, but when the Royals broke loose, they were dangerous. HSE scored two more goals in the first half, one on a delayed break and once in possession, for a 4-0 lead 21 minutes in. That margin held until deep into the second half.
“I couldn’t have asked anything more from these girls, they played their hearts out,” Geary said. “That’s what we’re going to walk away with happy about: We gave them everything we could. And we frustrated them quite a bit. I know our trap frustrated them. They weren’t able to get easy shots on goal, so that was good. That’s all I can ask of these girls.
“I felt like all in all we did a good job just containing their speed, keeping them forced to the outside. We fought hard, we fought real hard. We shouldn’t walk out of here being too upset because I thought we did a great job.”
Kokomo senior goalie Becca Wade had 10 saves and made a number of other plays outside her net.
The Kats had a few chances to score. Sophomore Michaela Wade forced a save in the first half with a long free kick, and freshman Aubrey Whiteman forced a save in the second half. The Kats’ best chance to score came from senior Spencer Wesche, who collided with Hamilton Southeastern’s backup goalie while tracking a ball in the second half. Wesche was able to put the ball on frame but a Royal defender cleared the danger.
The Wildkats finish the season 13-6-1.
“This has been such a great year,” Geary said. “We made a complete 180 from the beginning of the season to the end. I’m just happy I got to coach these girls this year. I’ve enjoyed it a ton.
“I’m going to miss [the senior class] dearly. My four years with these girls has been incredible.”