NORMAL — The Normal Community High School girls soccer team more than met the expectations of opposing coach Craig Lee as the 21st annual Intercity Tournament continued on Monday.
"Their second line is just as good as their first line," said the Bloomington coach after a 9-0 defeat. "They are very quick and very decisive with the ball."
If their five shutouts are any indication, the Iron showed they can also stop the ball as they improved to 5-0 overall and 2-0 in the tournament.
"I love our back line," said junior midfielder Grace Blair, who was among eight scorers.
"They are so good. They work so well together. We're so fortunate to have them back there. It makes our job so much easier as midfielders and forwards."
BHS, which fell to 0-4-0 and 0-2-0, was outshot, 26-0. The second half was shortened to 18:30 once NCHS took at 7-0 lead at the 37:01 mark.
"We really wanted to focus on possession today," said Blair, whose team has outscored its foes a combined 29-0. "We wanted to get a lot of touches on the ball. I think we did a really good job of that."
Caelyn Steffens led the way with two goals and one assist while Shannon Tomlinson and Kaitlynn Delveaux each had two assists.
Freshman Ryann Anderson opened the scoring with a header 85 seconds into the game when Tomlinson fed her after a Maggie Peters corner kick.
At the 36:22 mark, Carmen Cornejo put Steffens in a one-on-one situation against BHS goalie Grace Marcy to make it 2-0. Blair made it 3-0 by polishing off the rebound of a Megan Seger blast at the 31:06 mark.
"We passed fairly well today," said NCHS coach Matt Chapman. "One thing we tried to emphasize before the game was making the best decision with the ball every time."
Tomlinson's decision to feed Lauren Cornejo made it 4-0 at the 16:36 mark of the first half. Less than four minutes later, Grace Spader scored from 30 yards out off a Steffens pass.
Freshman Lia Ward's header off a Delveaux assist made it 6-0 before intermission. Steffens' team-leading sixth goal of the season off an Anderson pass halved the remaining time in the second half.
Chapman, who emptied his bench with 17:15 left, saw sophomore Alexis Ackerman score off a Ward assist at the 7:12 mark. Shelby Herrera ended the scoring with 2:32 to go off a Delveaux feed.
"It's been a great start so far," said Chapman, whose team visits perennial state power Edwardsville on Saturday. "We've got a lot of tough soccer ahead of us."
Monday's game would have been tougher if Darlease and Denise Watts had been available for BHS. Lee said they left school during the day, but he'd yet to learn why.
"Having them is a different game," he said. "(Denise) is one of the best strikers in town. If we can get her and Paige (Gardner) on the same squad, we have a chance to score goals against anybody.
"Paige, I thought, did a great job today at center back. She sort of took command. We were a much better team when she moved back there. We were more organized and more confident."
Monday's University High at Normal West tournament match was postponed.