WHEELING - Wheeling Central coach David Cross had a feeling his team was going to be pretty good this season. But this good?
Not in his wildest dreams.
The Maroon Knights defeated Weirton Madonna, 8-0, on Thursday at Field 4 at Wheeling Park, bringing their record to 4-0 while having outscored their opponents 44-0, an average of 11 goals per game.
PHOTO BY JOSH STROPE
Wheeling Central’s Lindsey Baker (16) battles for the ball with Weirton Madonna’s Hanna Bargar during action of their game Thursday. The Knights’ Olivia Gazzola, left, keeps tabs on the play.
''Everybody on the team gets along and they all like each other and all get work together,'' Cross said. ''They are doing a good job passing the ball. It's been a total team effort like (Thursday) where everybody played offense and defense.''
That was evident really early Thursday as Wheeling Central scored on its first shot, less than two minutes in when Bailey Clark fired a shot past Blue Dons netminder Amy Davis on an assist from captain Beth Stayduhar.
''It's always nice to score first,'' Cross said.
The Blue Dons (2-2) are a young and inexperienced team with one senior and two juniors. They became even younger and less experienced shortly after the first goal when Davis, the lone senior, dove for a ball and was kicked in the head.
Davis left the game and will likely need stitches, giving sophomore Leanne Grubbs her first action in goal.
Grubbs stopped 11 shots and made a couple nice saves, but Wheeling Central's offensive onslaught was too much.
The Maroon Knights scored five goals in a span of 12 minutes in the first half.
Stayduhar had a goal, as well as three assists, including on Clark's second goal. Aspen Matlock, Mary Stahl and Ashton Cross added the others in the first half.
''Central has a great team and when you lose your goalie in the first three minutes, you have to switch some players around and it really weakens your attack,'' said Weirton Madonna coach Bob Kolanko, returning for his second stint running the Blue Dons. ''Without an attack, you are playing defense the whole time.
''It was a tough loss losing Amy and the girls got down. Central got four really quick goals at that time and it took them some time to get their heads back on straight.''
Coach Cross rested some of his starters and the ones he had to leave in, switched them around to get them adjusted to other positions.
Clark, whose goals gave her 11 on the season to lead the team and the Ohio Valley, made one save in goal to combine on the shutout with Regan Blaha. Blaha took Clark's forward position and had two shots.
But even with the wholesale changes, Wheeling Central showed how deep it is as freshman Cate Calissie scored twice in the second half.
Coach Cross knows things will only get tougher and scoring at this pace won't continue, but he has faith his team will be able to answer the bell with the growing bullseye on its back.
''They are ready for it and they will do a good job,'' Cross said. ''They won't quit and they will hustle. I guarantee that.''