Scoring six goals against what should be a state title-contending team in the opening game of the season would typically draw acclaim from a coach.
But this is Alan Shepherd and this is the Kapaun Mount Carmel girls soccer team, a combination that has never been one to settle.
So while the Crusaders will feel good about their 6-3 victory over Trinity Academy on Tuesday evening at Stryker, they recognize there is work to be done.
“We didn’t move the ball as much as I wanted,” Shepherd said. “We lost the ball in the midfield, which led to a lot of counterattacks. We’ve got to take better care of the ball. We had too many turnovers tonight.”
While there is no denying the game became sloppy at times, it was a showcase of tremendous individual skill on the offensive end from both sides.
That its first test came against Kapaun’s tandem of Grace Hagan and Taryn Kruse seemed unfair for a mostly-new Trinity back line. The duo proved relentless, giving Kapaun a 3-0 lead after 23 minutes.
But the Knights have their own goal-scorer extraordinaire in senior Grace Linton, who scored 39 a season ago. She continued that pace Tuesday, capitalizing on two defensive lapses by Kapaun and registering the hat trick on a goal created by freshman Ally Henderson.
After trailing 3-0, Trinity had equalized it with 34 minutes left.
“(Linton) is going to do that against good teams or bad teams,” Trinity coach Tom Nykamp said. “I think she’s gonna get quite a few.”
The game was won in the midfield, where Kapaun controlled possession and generated 15 shots. It became only a matter of time before another scored.
That swing came in the 53rd minute when Kapaun senior MacKenzie Heiman took a through ball that was destined to be a lost cause and turned it into the go-ahead goal when she hustled to get her right foot and chip it by an unsuspecting defender and goalkeeper.
“That got our hope back,” Heiman said. “There was a whole tempo change once that fourth goal was scored.”
Six minutes later, Courtney Kempf added another impressive goal, taking a Michaela Dreiling corner kick in the air and volleying it in for the 5-3 lead.
All that remained was Kruse’s quest for her own hat trick, which she found with four minutes left on a blast five yards away from goal on the side.
“I knew I had two, so I was looking for that third one and the hat trick,” Kruse said. “It just came to me.”
It was a disappointing result for Trinity, but the play was encouraging.
“If we’re coming out like this in the first game of the season, “Linton said, “imagine where we’re going to be at a few games from now.”
Despite what seemed like an impressive performance, Kapaun was echoing the same sentiment.
“We’re going to get a lot better than what we are now,” Shepherd said.
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