Berkeley High girls’ soccer coach Suzanne Sillett intentionally scheduled a very tough pre-league schedule for her team this year, intending to get the young ’Jackets ready for ACCAL play. But if the first two games are any indication, Sillett didn’t need to worry too much.
Coming off of an easy win against league newcomer Hercules on Tuesday, the ’Jackets kept the momentum going with a 10-0 whipping of Encinal on Thursday night in Berkeley. Sophomore forward Maura Fitzgerald scored a hat trick in the first 26 minutes of the match, and Berkeley got goals from seven different players in the comprehensive victory.
“Games like this are an opportunity to work on what we’ve been practicing in a game situation,” Sillett said. “Changing the point of attack is something we’ve been trying to do, and we did that well tonight.”
The tone was set right away, as Berkeley nearly scored before a Jet player touched the ball. The ’Jackets (3-5 overall, 2-0 ACCAL) took the opening kickoff down the field, and Hannah Grenfell’s header from a Fitzgerald cross just missed going in. But Berkeley kept the ball in the Encinal end and Fitgerald scored two minutes later on a breakaway. She had a chance for another score on the next possession when forward Annie Borton found her wide open in front of the Encinal goal, but Fitzgerald shot right at the Jet goalkeeper.
Encinal managed to hold the ’Jackets scoreless for the next 15 minutes, but then Berkeley midfielder Rocio Guerrero put Laila Nossier through on the goal. Nossier cut one way to beat the last defender, then slid the ball past the goalkeeper with the outside of her foot for a 2-0 Berkeley lead.
Fitzgerald scored twice in the next eight minutes, prompting the Encinal coach to replace his goalie. The move paid off for the rest of the half, as Berkeley seemed to let off the pressure just a bit. But the Jets still couldn’t get out of their own end, managing just one shot in the half on their way to three in the game.
Encinal’s best scoring chance came just after halftime, as Berkeley goalkeeper Sara Corrigan-Gibbs gave the ball right to a Jet player, but the shot was right back at Corrigan-Gibbs, and the missed chance doomed Encinal to a shutout.
Berkeley let loose with an avalanche of goals starting in the 52nd minute. Freshman Dea Wallach started the flood by just beating the goalie to a Kira Mandella cross, and Borton got her lone goal of the match two minutes later, pouncing on a corner kick right in front. Midfielder Veronica Searles got into the act in the 60th minute, stealing the ball from an Encinal defender and scoring an easy goal, then Elise McNamara went through the Encinal defense on her own to score on a breakaway. Searles fed Wallach for another goal in the 70th minute, and Guerrero headed in a Fitzgerald corner to put the ’Jackets in double figures and close the scoring five minutes later.
So after beating up on two inferior opponents to open league play, is Sillett still glad she gave her team such a tough early schedule?
“It definitely prepared us, but we just have to make sure and maintain that intensity,” she said. “Any team can surprise you.”