Evergreen faced a lot of adversity in the first week of the season, losing three straight.
However, the Vikings put together a solid defensive effort, along with relentless pressure offensively to whitewash Otsego, 5-0 Monday night at Pifer Field.
“We are getting healthy again. We had a couple players back tonight and another coming back hopefully Thursday,” explained Viking coach Joshua Radel. “The team that was out there the first three games is now entirely different. I think we will be healthier and getting better and better as the weeks go on.”
For a while it looked as if the Vikings were going to be snakebit by bad breaks and the great play of Knight goalie Chesney Kuron.
Kuron blocked Brooklyn Camacho’s shot right in front of the net nine minutes into the contest, then smothered Camacho’s crossing pass just as Morgan Kohler got a foot on it to keep the Vikings off the board in the first 12 minutes.
“I think early in the game we were in that mindset that we were 0-3 and needed a confidence booster,” said Radel. “We had a chance 30 seconds in and laid up on it, then we had the girl from Otsego make some really good plays in the net and we started thinking, ‘is this gonna be like the first three games’.”
Then at the halfway point of the first half Raegan Radel had Kuron beat but ripped her shot off the crossbar to leave the game still without a goal.
Kuron made a great stop on the Vikes’ Callie Benner — who just came off the injured list — with 14 minutes left to keep the game scoreless.
The Vikings finally broke through a few minutes later.
“We should have had several goals right off the rip,” explained Radel. “Then finally we make another play and have one of our freshman stick it in the back of the net.”
Kenzie Mitchey won a battle of the left sideline and found Camacho at the 10-yard line, and the freshman rammed a shot into the left side of the net to make it 1-0 with 7:14 on the clock.
“We have been talking to her all year in that she just has to make the runs and get her shot,” stated Radel. “You could see her just light up after that and also boosted the confidence of everyone else.”
Just under two minutes later, Raegan Radel hit Paige Radel with a throw in from deep on the left side and her quick shot beat Kuron for a 2-0 Viking lead.
In all, the Vikings peppered the Knights with 20 first half shots while allowing Otsego just three tries at the net.
The best Otsego chance of the day came with just under 14 left in the first when Skylee Raker came out of the net and jumped on Abigail Cornell’s shot to hold the Knights in check.
“That’s a tough play for a keeper,” Radel said of his goalie. “She was one-on-one and decides to be the aggressor.
“Our defensive line led by Anna Huntzinger who works her tail off every day, working with a couple of rookies, did a great job most of the night.”
It didn’t take the Vikings long to extend the lead in the second half as in the eighth minute, Camacho took a centering pass from Paige Radel and scored on a crossing shot to make it 3-0.
Four minutes later Kiersten Taylor and Raegan Radel set up Paige Radel for a score to make it 4-0.
Evergreen tacked on one more at the 17 minute mark when Mitchey pushed the ball ahead to Paige Radel and the junior nailed a shot in the upper right corner from 15 yards out on the left side to give her the hat trick.
In all Evergreen took 33 shots at the net to just five for the Knights.
Evergreen now hosts Toledo Christian tonight at 7 p.m.
Reach Joe Blystone at firstname.lastname@example.org