WESTFIELD TWP. — Now that’s the way to make a return.
Coming back from a month off after suffering a concussion, Elle Cain notched her first career hat-trick Wednesday to lead Highland’s girls soccer team to a 5-1 Suburban League victory over Cloverleaf.
“It feels good,” Cain said. “I couldn’t have done it without all my teammates helping me. It’s nice to be back playing again after my concussion.”
Cain scored her first goal late in the first half to push the Hornets (7-2-1, 3-0-1) to a 2-0 lead they took into the half.
She found the back of the net again with 24:13 left when she took a cross pass from Bailey Sauer and fired a low shot past diving Cloverleaf keeper Katelyn Young.
“You love to go up and play in the attack,” Highland coach Gina Fox said. “It’s nice to give opportunities when you can to different girls up top. We’ve been working a lot lately in practice, and the coaching staff puts in a lot of time making sure that we’re getting good drills and getting them ready for it. We spread them out a lot outside with the width and we were able to get some nice crosses.”
Colts junior Lauren Gokey ended the shutout when her slick dribbling left her open in front of the net. Gokey took advantage of the scoring chance and buried her 10th goal of the season — it was just the third shot on goal for Cloverleaf (3-5, 0-4) in the game — with 18:10 left.
“Half of the games up to this point, she’s been our utility player,” Cloverleaf coach Guillermo Porras said. “She’s played in the defense because she’s obviously got great talent and a feel for the game. She can basically play anywhere. To have her only play forward half of the time and have 10 goals, that just tells you what a great athlete she is.”
Cain had an answer. The junior took another pass from Koch and finished her hat trick to push the cushion back to three with 9:23 to play.
“We are just trying to get as many goals as possible,” Cain said. “We never want to give up or go easy. We just want to play hard until the last second of the game.”
Amanda Schniegenberg added the icing on Cain’s welcome-back cake when she broke free and scored.
Despite the lopsided final score, Porras was encouraged by the play of Young, who made several fantastic saves.
“She kept the score down,” he said. “Being that it was 5-1, I think that she saved at least five more goals. Ultimately, it just came down to her being aggressive and coming out to save the rest of the opportunities that Highland had. Definitely she kept us in the game at one point, but it was just too much pressure from Highland.”
Kaitlyn Lafayette started the scoring for the Hornets when her corner kick went straight into the net in the early going.
The Highland defense was stingy throughout, allowing just the three shots on goal and keeping things moving toward the offensive end all night.
“The defense was really well organized,” Fox said. “I thought (Maggie Mae) Everett did a really good job in the back and organized. She made sure all the girls in the back had their mark.”
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