Paisley Parker’s hat trick highlighted a strong second half as the Joplin High School girls soccer team defeated Pittsburg 5-0 on a windy Tuesday night at the JHS Athletic Complex.
After going scoreless in the first half, the host Eagles (2-1) erupted for five unanswered goals after intermission.
“I think it was the mental piece,” Joplin coach Josh Thompson said after the win. “I thought we should have had an easier time in the first half. Mentally, we were more focused in the second half. Overall, we did a good job of staying mentally focused.”
Throughout the first half, the Eagles had numerous scoring chances, as Pittsburg goalkeeper Mercedes Angeles was under constant pressure. But each time, the hosts were unable to punch it in.
It was a different story in the second half.
A sophomore forward, Parker scored three goals in about 10 minutes.
“We switched her around on the field,” Thompson said, noting assistant coaches Cody Brooks and Lindsay DeWelt suggested the change. “It gave her more space on the wing. We saw the difference immediately. Paisley had more space and had some good finishes as well as being able to have her second penalty kick of the season.”
The first goal came in the 46th minute on a penalty kick and gave the Eagles a lead they would never relinquish.
Parker’s second goal came nine minutes later and was assisted by freshman Adeline Dunn.
Parker completed the hat trick a minute later, with sophomore Brynn Driver assisting on the play in the 56th minute.
Joplin freshman Morgan Ferro scored in the 63rd minute to make it 4-0.
There was a long delay after Pittsburg senior Natalie Talent suffered what appeared to be a severe leg injury.
“I believe she was responsible for them having a soccer team, so our heart goes out to her and to their whole program,” Thompson said.
The Eagles added a final goal in the final minute of the contest when sophomore Kaylea Green scored.
In their first year of existence, the Purple Dragons didn’t have many scoring chances against Joplin’s solid defense, as the hosts dominated possession. Joplin had 13 shots on-goal and the visitors had one.
“We played smart and we played to our strengths defensively,” Thompson said. “We’ve got some fast girls back there. They played well.”
JHS senior Reece Schroer started at goalkeeper in place of classmate Mya Johnson, the team’s regular starter. Schroer made one save. Thompson noted he hopes to have Johnson back soon.
Joplin hosts Monett on Thursday, with the varsity match scheduled for 6:30 p.m.
JHS STARTING LINEUP
Joplin’s starting lineup featured defenders Jayla Hunter, Lily Pagan and Hailee Johnson, midfielders Sage Mitchell, Emily Delman, Ferro, Karen Maturino and Addison Saunders with forwards Parker and Driver and goalkeeper Schroer.