BLOOMINGTON — It didn't take a wily, experienced veteran to recognize that it was an unusual opportunity.
"It's a rare thing to happen, but when it does happen, you have to make sure you finish it," said University High School freshman Bree Cordray.
Cordray had corralled a beautifully laid lead pass from teammate Olivia Checchi. Turning upfield, she was surprised to see absolutely nothing but 50 yards of green turf between her and the goal.
Playing in only her fourth game at the varsity level, Cordray made the most of her chance, outmotoring the entire Bloomington roster before booting home a score to help the Pioneers (2-1-1) to a 6-0 win over the Purple Raiders in an Intercity Girls Soccer Tournament match on Wednesday afternoon at Fred Carlton Field.
When they were positioned between the goal and the U High attack, the BHS defense was peppered with 27 shots on goal by an assertive Pioneer offense.
"It took a little while to get in that mindset, an aggressive mindset," said U High coach Hayley Sefton. "But then I felt like once we were there, we started taking some pretty good shots on goal."
After a couple of early, crossbar banging near-misses, U High got on the scoreboard with 26:21 remaining in the first half on a goal by Julia Herrman, who would then assist on junior Evie Redell's first goal of the season. The latter score came on a 2-on-1 break with 6:38 left in the opening period.
Despite being outshot 12-1 in the first 40 minutes, BHS was able to limit U High to its 2-0 halftime advantage.
Sefton gave kudos to Bloomington goalkeeper Grace Marcy for keeping the Purple Raiders in the game.
"Their keeper is really good and she stopped a lot of really hard stuff, so credit to her for that, for sure," Sefton said.
"(Marcy) didn't start playing soccer until she was a freshman," said BHS coach Craig Lee. "Now she's a junior and you can really see that the amount of improvement she's had in those three years is immense. She makes really good saves and is good at coming out to the ball."
U High wasted little time in pulling away in the second half.
Redell added her second score 6:47 into the final frame by left-footing a rocket on goal from 20 yards out to give the Pioneers a 3-0 lead.
The BHS backline of Darlease Watts, Natalie Norman and Taylor Harper then hunkered down to stand stout and consistently stop a U High offensive onslaught before Cordray snuck behind everybody to give the Pioneers a 4-0 lead.
With Bloomington's gas tank beginning to run low, U High's Checchi scored on a header off a crossing pass from Celeste Noraian to make it 5-0.
Freshman forward Olivia Kawakita then finished the scoring with a goal with just under 10 minutes remaining.
U High outshot Bloomington, 27-2, as the Raiders fell to 1-4-0.
"I don't love what the scoreboard says, but I don't mind how we played for most of the game," Lee said. "We're so much farther ahead now at this point of the season than we were last year at this point in the season. We've still got so much of the season left and, at this point, it's about growing and getting better."