WATSON – Live Oak’s girls soccer team quickly opened the new year in much the same manner they played the last six weeks.
On a high note.
Alicia Carlos’ goal five minutes into Saturday’s match with University High provided an early margin and a sense of optimism in the Lady Eagles first game in nearly two weeks.
U-High, the reigning Division III state champions, had other ideas.
During an eight-minute stretch of the first half the Lady Cubs erased that deficit behind Mia Hau’s hat track and scored four more times in the second half for a 7-1 victory over the Lady Eagles.
“We had this problem also against Walker,” Live Oak coach Kraig Zeller said of a 4-1 setback. “We got up first and what I’ve found with this team is typically when we get down by two goals, their heads go down. That’s something we have to work on; the mental side of the game. Sometimes I think these girls don’t believe in their quality of the game.”
Live Oak (10-3-1) tasted defeated for the first time in last 10 matches – a stretch dating to the Lady Eagles’ loss Nov. 19 at Walker.
Live Oak had won its last night straight outings but hadn’t played a game since a 4-0 victory over Lutcher on Dec. 20.
“I talked to the girls at halftime about it being 13 days of rust,” Zeller said. “It definitely showed but that’s not an excuse to U-High. They wanted it more than we did. I asked the team to show a little heart in the second half and I couldn’t get it out of them.”
Carlos dribbled into the middle of the field and sent a laser that went over the goalkeeper’s outstretched hands and into the back of the net.
The Lady Eagles had an opportunity to extend their lead 12 minutes later but Maddy Harrouch’s 35-yard free kick landed softly in the hands of the goalkeeper.
Hau began her hat trick at the 27-minute mark, driving in from the left side just inside the penalty area where she chipped a shot over Live Oak goalkeeper Kylie Stringer and into the right corner.
After a 40-yard free kick from Carlos was gathered in by the goalie a minute later, Hau was in the right place at the right time for a 2-1 lead in the 31st minute. She cleaned up a loose ball in front of the goal that Stringer had initially blocked on a shot from Jules Gautreau.
Hau capped her three-goal spree, perfectly timing her run on a long ball played over Live Oak’s back line on a free kick from midfield, tapping the ball into the left corner in the 35th minute.
“The last few years have been kind of tough and this has been a good year for us, so we’re working on the mindset that when you’re down in a game to show some resiliency,” Zeller said. “You have to battle back. We’ve done that in some games, but against some of the upper (echelon) teams like U-High, I think they go into thinking, ‘oh we’re not supposed to win this game’. That’s sometime eats us up and that happened today.”
U-High’s performance turned dominant in the second half where they wound up with 19 of 23 shots on target compared to Live Oak, which didn’t take its fifth shot of the game (four on target) until a late run in the 77th minute.
Victoria Labarre’s penalty kick in the 56th minute made it 4-1, while U-High also took advantage of some good fortune when Stringer, in a one on one situation, came out to challenge Aniya Ingram, whose shot caromed backward and into an open net.
Camryn Jackson added a pair of goals for the Lady Cubs (10-3-3) in the final 13 minutes of play.
Stringer had seven of her 11 saves in the second half.
“When I played, this is one of those where you try and move on to the next game,” Zeller said. “Kick it to the curb and get ready for Runnels (away Tuesday) and hopefully get back into the swing of things from being off so long.”