WHEELING - In rolling to 14 victories in 15 matches, Wheeling Central girls' soccer team has relied heavily on its four seniors - Kristen Jarrett, Beth Stayduhar, Mary Stahl and Aspen Matlock.
But make no mistake about it, the Maroon Knights go much deeper than just their upperclassmen.
Freshman Cate Calissie scored three of Central's first four goals in the opening 29 minutes of play, classmate Lindsey Baker added some fine defense, sophomore keeper Regan Blaha was perfect in goal with a shutout, and the four seniors played their usual parts as the Maroon Knights rolled, blanking visiting John Marshall 6-0 at Field 4 on Wednesday afternoon.
The victory was the second in as many days for Coach David Cross' squad, which dropped its first game of the season in last week's OVAC Cup quarterfinals. Central plays its third game in a row this evening when the Knights travel to New Martinsville to take on Magnolia.
While Coach Jesus Marin watched his Monarchs (5-8) control the ball, and a little bit of the tempo the opening 10 minutes of play, it did not last long and Calissie eventually took over.
The standout freshman sent her first shot over John Marshall back-up keeper Sissy George's head high into the top back corner of the net 15 minutes in on an assist from Baker for a 1-0 lead.
Two minutes later, Calissie recorded her second goal, taking a corner kick from Stayduhar in front of the net and banging it in for a two goal lead.
Stayduhar added one of her own at the 27 minute mark, taking a cross near the net and beating George to make it 3-0 before Calissie pulled off the early hat-trick, on a long pass from Stayduhar, with just over 10 minutes to play in the half for a 4-0 reading.
Bailey Clark scored with four minutes to go in the half before Stayduhar's second goal, to go with a pair of assists, capped the opening 40 minutes and the scoring at 6-0.
"Kate has done an outstanding job for us in the first half our last few games and (Wednesday) was no exception," Cross said. "She is just a terrific kid and a great talent. Add Lindsey Baker to that on defense and I am very excited about our freshmen and sophomores who are playing so well.
"The second half we were basically just playing defense, but we got everybody into the game for a good stretch of time. Everybody plays every game for us, but it is nice when they all get good playing time.
"The girls all played well together (Tuesday) and it carried over (Wednesday). The things I liked most was how the girls passed the ball and talked on both offense and defense."
Offensively Central got off 12 shots on goal while John Marshall was limited to just a pair. The Monarchs also lost starting keeper Autumn Schultz to a pre-game injury.
"Things just didn't start out good for us, we lost our starting keeper in pregame then they came out and scored some quick goals and put us in a whole," Marin said. "But Sissy George did a good job stepping up for us on short notice in goal.
"Wheeling Central is a very good team, one of the best in the Valley. And they are just so tough with only 14 girls on the roster. We played the best we could with the injuries we have.
"There are some mistakes we need to correct, but we will live to play another day."