After his Ellison Lady Eagles soccer team was defeated 5-0 by visiting Belton on Friday night, head coach Matthew Watt was hardly upset.
“When you’re only trailing a team as great as Belton 1-0 at halftime, you’re happy,” Watt said. “And that one goal they scored in the first half was brilliant.”
Lady Tiger junior forward Aubrey Martinez blasted a 30-yard missile which found a home in the upper-left corner of Ellison’s net.
“Even from 30 or even 35 yards out, she (Martinez) can hit it,” Watt said. “If she has a modicum of space, even from that far out, she’ll get it into the net. She is extremely talented. But Belton’s whole team — top to bottom — is extremely talented.”
The Lady Tigers are 9-1 in District 8-5A with four games left. Should they win out, they’d clinch at least a share of the district crown. This is not unusual at Belton. The Lady Tigers have won nine consecutive district titles.
“Having the district title this year is very important to me and to all of us,” said Bailee Boren, a senior center-midfielder for Belton.
Boren has played at the varsity level the past four seasons.
“This year,” she said, “the goal for us is to get to state — and I know we can do it.”
When Belton practices, for long stretches of time, something is missing.
A soccer ball.
“We do a lot of running in our practices,” said Lady Tiger keeper Courtney Dippel.
“Our coach (Wendy Knight) makes us run a lot,” Boren said. “But it’s for a good reason. She pushes us more than we think we can go and that will push us on to the next level.”
“All that running Coach makes us do better prepares us for the games,” she said. “Not just for district play, but in the playoffs, too. We have high expectations. I know the cliché is to just say, ‘We want to make it to state.’ But that is our expectation. We know hard work is the key to making that happen.”
The Lady Tigers are a united bunch.
“Winning is so important to all of us,” said junior center-midfielder Jamie Brown. “And because it’s so important to us, we make sure we communicate well. We all get along. We all take pride in making good passes. We all feel the same about hustling: we know we must win the 50-50 balls.”
On Friday, senior forwards Ashley Winkler and Madi Goldston each scored two goals.
“Our defense deserves credit for our goals, too,” Winkler said. “We play with four defenders and they get those balls up to us. They are sneaky, they confuse our opponents with the way they move.”
“I think one of the best things about our team is that we’re each huge competitors,” Goldston said. “We have very good team chemistry and part of that comes from the fact that we all want to win — and we all want to win all of the time.”