The Lady Patriots had their standout keeper back in net as they opened district play Monday in Richmond.
And that was just the sparked they needed.
Ruby Smith had two goals and Hayley Hunt allowed just one goal as Model Laboratory (6-2) defeated Berea Community (2-3), 5-1. The Lady Patriots got three second-half goals to blow open a close game.
“I think that was a big lift,” Model coach Michael Bailey said of getting Hunt back in the lineup. “The defense felt a little more comfortable. Two weeks off and she steps in and just like she hasn’t missed a day.”
Hunt was injured in a game on Aug. 25 against Paris.
She hadn’t played since.
The senior was tested by Berea in her return. She made several nice saves before freshman Hannah Wallhausser scored for the Lady Pirates with 4:19 left in the first half.
Model still had a 2-1 lead at halftime.
The Lady Patriots took the lead early on. Rachel Short scored just six minutes into the game and Smith added a goal in the 10th minute to give Model a 2-0 lead
“We just built off that,” Bailey said of the fast start. “We have five new starters from last year and I think they are just starting to get used to each other, which takes some time. I think by another two weeks, we are going to be even better.”
After halftime, the Lady Pirates found some momentum. They pressured the Model net, but Hunt stood tall.
“I thought we came out better in the second half,” Berea coach Jerry Bingham said. “You can’t do anything about those little things. We got some good shots, we just couldn’t get it in the net.”
Less than eight minutes into the second half, Model took control. Mallory Smith knocked a ball out of mid-air and into the net on a beautiful feed to re-establish a two-goal lead.
Ruby Smith ripped a shot off the crossbar with just more than a minute left that hit off keeper Moria Wideman and went into the net.
With 11:30 left in the game, Sophie Austin came in on the left side and slide a shot past Shelly Mehcham, who came into the game after Wideman was injured.
“This definitely wasn’t our best soccer,” Bingham said. “I was a little disappointed about that.”
The Lady Patriots still have two district games left on the schedule, including a game next week at Central, but it was important for them to get this win.
“We practiced real hard for this first district game,” Bailey said.
Model is set to return to action Thursday at Whitley County.
Berea is set to return to action today at home against Garrard County.