CARBONDALE — Blake Clark scored her fourth hat trick of the season to lead the Marion Wildcats to a 7-1 win over Harrisburg on a windy opening day of the 20th Annual Fralish Cup Friday night at the Fralish Soccer Complex inside the Carbondale Super Block.
"We still haven’t played our best game yet – that’s still to come – but I think we’re starting to put everything to together," Clark said.
The opening day began with defending two-time champion Waterloo beating Sikeston, 6-0, and Cape Notre Dame beating Anna-Jonesboro, 10-0. The first day ended with Carbondale beating Massac County, 2-0, in a lightning shortened game that was called after the first half was completed.
"We haven’t played Notre Dame before," said Marion coach Jaime Clark-Verbeck. "We’re excited because they are the reigning Missouri state champion and we want to play them. It should be fun."
Play begins today at 10 a.m. with Anna-Jonesboro (0-8) playing Harrisburg (7-3) and Sikeston (3-5) playing Massac County (4-5) in the consolation semfinals.
The championship bracket begins at 11:30 a.m. with Cape Notre Dame (9-2) taking on Marion (10-0-1) and Waterloo (8-1-3) playing Carbondale (5-4) in the semifinals.
Marion got off to a slow start before two unusual goals by Nicole Szidik in a span of 53 seconds jump-started the Wildcats.
"Szdik’s two goals got us going," Clark-Verbeck said. "I think we were trying a little to hard to score and with the wind you have to keep the ball down and possess. Once we started to string some passes together we started to score."
The first came at the 10:27 mark on a free kick just inside the mid-field line and the second was on a corner kick from the left side. For the sophomore the goals were her 11th and 12th for the season. She also had three assists.
"I took a free kick from 40 yards out and then I took a corner and it went in," Szdik said. "I just put some good power on the first one and the wind helped the second one."
Clark scored her first goal with 3:57 remaining in the first half on a pass from Szidik on a play that was started by Paige Newlin. Marissa Basi made it 4-0 2:23 later when Clark got the play started by setting up freshman Estefania Rodriquez.
"Stephanie Rodriquez got a really good ball on the right flank and she dribbled through a few people," Basi said. "I just came running across the center and just hit it in. It didn’t take much."
Harrisburg (7-3-0) scored the first goal of the second half on the exact same shot Szdik scored her second goal on, but from the other side when Josie Drone scored on a corner kick.
"We wanted to get the shutout, but they had a great corner kick, so we didn’t get that," Clark-Verbeck said. "I don’t think I’ve seen a game where two goals were scored (directly on) corner kicks, but tonight was the perfect setting for it with all the wind. Once the ball was up there there wasn’t anything anybody could do with it."
Clark and Szdik teamed up for the next two goals to give Marion a 6-1 lead.
Basi scored her second goal with 8:02 remaining off an assist by goalkeeper Madison Goodley, who traded in her goaltending equipment for the second half.
"Maddy Goodley got me a pretty good ball and it came bouncing in the air," Basi said. "I juggled it up a little bit and knocked it in with the outside of my foot."
The Terriers took a 2-0 lead at the half on two goals by Faith Golz. The two goals were the fourth time this season the senior has scored twice in a game. The first came at the 10:53 mark.
"The first goal was after I got fouled a very yards outside of the box," Golz said. "Audrey Meador, who has been taking free kicks well for us this season, took the kick. I just broke free and luckily got a toe on it and it went into the corner."
Her second goal and eighth of the season came with 12:42 remaining in the first half.
"Sage Nelsen got the ball from the side and I was on the opposite side of the field from her," Golz said. "I ran across the backline and she played a ball through the defense. I took a touch and found the corner. One of these days I might get a hat trick."
The consolation championship game and the seventh place game will be played at 2 p.m. followed by the third place and championship games at 3:30 p.m.