Women's soccer: Indian Hills vs. Hawkeye CC

Indian Hills Community College soccer player Yui Okamoto (center) tries to escape the hold of Hawkeye Community College’s Faith Cullen-Cooper as the referee looks on during Wednesday’s match in Ottumwa.

A forward is only as good as the midfielders who can get the ball to her.

The Indian Hills Community College women’s soccer team has an impressive collection of them.

Five different players found the back of the net, including Emily Murphy, who set school scoring records last season, as the Warriors pulled away for a 7-2 victory over Hawkeye Community College Wednesday.

“Emily is Emily, but what we knew we needed were more players to score besides her,” Indian Hills coach Anthony Longo said. “We’re way better in the midfield than we were last year. We just have a lot of girls who are consistently creative there.”

The game was a tale of two halves for the Warriors (13-1-1). In the first 45 minutes, the Warriors were constantly on the attack and possessing the ball, while hounding RedTail players once they got a touch.

That led to a three-goal outburst in the opening 28 minutes. Madison L. Meyer flicked a header past Hawkeye goalie Halle Ratchford on an assist by Kiri Chiba in the sixth minute, then Miranda Kurtt followed with the first of her hat trick goals, as she also turned a header into the net off a free kick by Julie Gouilliart.

In the 28th minute, Yui Okamoto dribbled down wide open on one side of the field, then blasted a shot past Ratchford for the 3-0 lead.

“I think when you get a lead like that, you take the foot off the gas a little bit,” Longo said. “We definitely want to put the pressure on against teams we feel we should beat, so that’s a big thing for us.”

The RedTails got a goal back just over five minutes into the second half, when Mollie Cavaciuti scored past Lani Mears off a rebound on a corner kick.

But the Warriors answered with four consecutive goals as Kurtt scored into an open net after players collided in the penalty area, then Murphy buried a cross from Kurtt four minutes later for a 5-1 lead. Gouilliart and Kurtt added goals to seal the win.

The second half wasn’t as opportunistic as the first half was for the Warriors, but it still had plenty of pressure and nifty passing to set up scoring chances. Indian Hills outshot Hawkeye 25-5.

“We don’t really want to rely too heavily on one player, because we know teams will be after Emily when the postseason starts,” Longo said. “We rotated six in, three at a time, and that gave us a little more creativity.”

Except for a late goal, Mears has been excellent in net for the Warriors. The Notre Dame-West Burlington graduate made three saves in the contest, and is allowing less than a goal per game.

“She’s really been great for us. She’s really good on her feet,” Longo said. “Everyone is just really comfortable playing in front of her.”

The Warriors host Northeast Saturday for Sophomore Day in the final ICCAC match of the season. A win or tie will give Indian Hills the second seed and a coveted bye in the league tournament.

Chad Drury can be reached at cdrury@ottumwacourier.com, and on Twitter @ChadDrury

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