For the first 59 minutes Friday, the Kelly Walsh Trojans didn’t look like a team that had scored 28 goals in their first five games.
That all changed over the final 21 minutes, however, as Kelly Walsh found the back of the net four times in a 4-0 shutout of rival Natrona at the Tom Staffileno Activities Complex.
Kelly Walsh dominated possession throughout, but was unable to break through against Natrona’s back line in the first half. The Trojans outshot the Fillies 10-1 in the first 40 minutes, including a Brooke Johnson boot that clanged off the post at the 6-minute mark.
“It was a frustrating first half,” KW head coach Jerry Realing said. “We had so much possession of the ball, but it was tough to break through their defense at the back 18.
“But I knew we were right there.”
The Trojans (6-0-0, 4-0-0 Class 4A West) finally broke through when senior Bailey Neff took a through-ball from Ashley Sanchez and beat Natrona goalkeeper Rylie Garner with a shot to the bottom left.
“I noticed the keeper went to the right,” Neff said, “so I just slid it to the lower left. I think we were nervous at first because we were playing our rival.”
Those nerves quickly turned to goals, however.
Senior Chelsea Thornburgh made it 2-0 less than a minute later when she blasted in a rebound from just inside the box. And junior Abree Hill added goals in the 69th and 71st minutes off assists from Thornburgh for the 4-0 final.
“We knew they had shooters,” Natrona head coach Lydia Bell said. “I thought we did a good job containing their offensive play, especially in the first half.
“I’m proud of our effort, but I thought as the game wore on we made some mental mistakes with our marks and in our communication.”
And that proved to be too much to overcome against the Trojans, who have now outscored opponents 32-2.
Kelly Walsh finished the game with a 24-7 shot advantage and had a 15-5 advantage in shots on goal. Natrona (2-4-0, 1-3-0 4A West) did have two solid scoring opportunities in the second half, but KW freshman keeper Katie Johnson had no problems making the saves.
The Trojans scored the game’s first goal shortly after Johnson’s first save, which made things much more comfortable on the Kelly Walsh bench.
“Absolutely,” Realing said. “I think when Bailey finally scored we were able to relax a little bit. You always look for leaders in rivalry games, and I think we have some good ones.
“We’ve got our five seniors who have been playing varsity for years and then we’ve got Sara Lamb and Kylie Spangler in the midfield — those two are our engines. And then we’ve got Irie Elliot, who is just a rock on defense.
“We just want them to be good teammates, play hard and have fun.”