Model Laboratory girls soccer coach Mike Austin said his team focused all preseason on honing on-field communication, passing and the attack.
That hard work payed off in the Lady Patriots opener on Monday, when Model blasted Louisville Collegiate in a lopsided 5-0 victory in Richmond.
"It's really gratifying to see what we have been working on show up on the field in the first game," Austin said after the win. "To see it click… I'm so happy. We are moving in the direction we want to move in."
Model's took control early and maintained dominance on the field thanks to a handful of underclassman.
"We have depth, because so many freshman and sophomores are ready to play now. Everybody got in today and we want to keep building on playing together and just playing good soccer," Austin explained.
Sophomore Anniston Bray scored the first goal of the season for the Lady Patriots in the first 10 minutes of the game.
Fellow sophomore teammate Julia Luxon drove the ball past a defender and found Anniston in a direct line to the goal.
Bray fired a shot, which sailed over the head of the keeper.
The midfielder said after her goal the team was eager to keep going.
"It picked up all the girls and we started playing even harder," Bray said. "This year we have been passing a lot more and talking and trying to play the through ball. Mike let us know that we need to try to get up on them early and get that momentum going and Julia made that great pass and we were able to do that."
It was the first of three assists on Monday for Luxon, who found sophomore Becky Otieno minutes later for another goal to put Model up 2-0 in the first half.
Junior keeper McKenna Tuttle made a diving save with minutes to go in the first half to keep Louisville Collegiate from gaining any ground.
Tuttle made seven saves on Monday and earned the shutout victory.
Bouyed by the lead, the Lady Patriots kept pushing in the second half.
Otieno quickly expanded Model's lead with a sneaky goal that caught the Louisville Collegiate goalie off guard thanks to an assist from freshman Ciah Marks.
Minutes later, another freshman made it 4-0, when Payton Sparks fired a sure-footed penalty kick to the left of keeper.
"I usually like to kick towards the right side of the goal, but I figured it would be easier to kick it to the left and I just went for it...It feels pretty good to be a freshman and score during your first varsity game," Sparks said.
Luxon and Otieno came up big once again with less than 15 minutes left in the game.
"I can usually get around defenders and get some shots off," Luxon explained her three assists of the night. "It was harder for me to get shots off because Louisville Collegiate's defense was really compact on me. So the whole game, I was focusing on finding those passes to my wings. Today was a little different, I had to look for other opportunities for us to score."
Otieno said she was surprised to score three goals on Monday.
"I was definitely not expecting it this year. I was even talking about how my shots haven't been that great. Julia had a lot of good assists to me. All I had to do was finish it. I was just in the right place at the right times tonight," the sophomore explained.
Austin said he was proud of his team's effort in their opener and hoped they can build upon a strong first outing.
"The thing I think I love most about this team this year is they play with so much heart and (they give) 100 percent effort. It was good to start off with a win to a school that we are evenly matched with. That's a big step forward for us and great way to start this season," Austin said.