McDERMOTT — It’s hard to play a better game than the one Christen Risner played on Tuesday evening.
The Wheelersburg freshman scored five goals — three in the second half — as the Pirates defeated Northwest 6-0 at Northwest High School.
“Risner played a great game,” Wheelerburg girls soccer coach Todd Jarvis said. “I was proud of what the ladies did…all in all, I thought it was a good effort.”
It was Wheelersburg’s defense that took control of the match early on. The Pirates kept play near the Mohawk goal, thanks to aggressive defense from their forwards. It seemed whenever Northwest managed to get a foot on the ball, Wheelersburg stole it back with a chance to score.
“We play fairly direct, sometimes a little more direct than I would like to be,” Jarvis said.
It was one of those turnovers that led to Wheelersburg’s first goal. After taking a loose ball, Wheelersburg’s Raygan Reyes crossed to a streaking Morgan Willoughby who finished in the left side of the net. Just seven minutes in, the Pirates held a 1-0 lead.
Moments later, Northwest’s transition offense gave the Mohawks a few scoring chances. A few well-timed deep passes to forward Lillie Throckmorton put a few scares into the Pirate defense, but she was never able to find the back of the net.
“The Mohawks do a really good job of working the ball through the center and organizing an attack. We were able to slow that down in the second half,” Jarvis said.
The rest of the match belonged to Risner. She scored her first goal at the 15 minute mark, when Reyes found her streaking in front of the net. Just before halftime, she added her second goal when she found a loose ball, spun and sliced the ball past the Northwest keeper.
But Risner was just getting started. Her hat-trick goal came about 10 minutes in the second half, when she pulled up from 30 yards and let go of a screamer that caught the crossbar and bounced in. She added two more goals in the waning moments of the game, one on a pass from Willoughby (her second assist) and a second on a pass from Sophie Hagans.
All the while, the Wheelersburg defense kept its aggressive pressure, keeping play near the Northwest goal.
“Luckily, (keeper) Laiken Salyers was able to keep a clean sheet tonight, so the defense kept the ball out of her hands,” Jarvis said.
Jarvis was impressed with the way his team kept up the pressure, despite holding a significant second-half lead — especially playing on the road on a much slower grass field.
“We were very balanced. We score three goals in the first and three in the second half. We’ve been challenged this year to be a second half team, and when you go on the road in the SOC, it’s not always easy to be a second half team,” he said.
With the win, Wheelersburg stays atop the SOC II standings. They’ll look to add to that total on Thursday, when they visit Waverly. Northwest also takes the field on Monday when they face Southeastern.
Wheelersburg def. Northwest 6-0
First half — 1, Wheelersburg, M. Willoughby (R. Reyes), 7th minute. 2, Wheelersburg, C. Risner (M. Willoughby), 15th minute. 3, Wheelersburg, C. Risner, 38th minute.
Second half — 4, Wheelersburg, C. Risner, 50th minute. 5, Wheelersburg, C. Risner (M. Willoughby). 6, Wheelersburg, C. Risner (S. Hagans).
Records — Wheelersburg 2-1-2 (2-0 SOC II)
Reach Alex Hider at 740-353-3101 ext. 1931 or on Twitter @PDTSportsWriter