MARION — At the Marion 2A girls soccer regional finals Friday night Blake Clark scored four goals and Margaux Bruce three to lead the Marion Wildcats to a 7-0 win over Carterville-Herrin to win its second consecutive regional title and its third in the last five years.
“We passed well as a team tonight which led to a lot of opportunities that we finished on,” Clark said.
Marion (20-6-0) advances to the Bethalto Civic Memorial Sectional to face Chatham Glenwood Wednesday at 6 p.m.
“What I was most proud of we transitioned better from offense to defense,” said Marion coach Jaime Clark Verbeck. “Our movement was much better so we were more in sync as a unit and that was our main goal going into the night."
Marion scored first when Clark scored off a pass from Nicole Szidik at the 6:12 mark. Five minutes and 54 seconds later, Bruce scored on a play started by Clark from the right corner when the freshman forward’s shot from the front of the net was blocked and she kicked in the rebound.
“I’ve had a few rebound goals this season,” Bruce said. “In the sectionals we have to stay strong and keep focused to be able to keep going.”
With 12:23 remaining in the half, Clark scored again from the left side. Less than two minutes later, Bruce scored her second goal when she was left alone in front of the Lions goalkeeper Ashton Hawk.
Marion dominated the first half allowing Carterville-Herrin to cross the center line only twice while out-shooting the Lady Lions 9-0 and forcing 12 corner kicks.
“At halftime we talked about having pride in our effort and I’m super proud of the second half,” said Carterville-Herrin coach Chip Lennox. “This field plays a little more into their game, but in the second half we probably had three times as many opportunities than we did in the first half.”
Clark added to the lead with 24:24 remaining in the game on a shot with two defenders draped around her for the hat trick. With 12:03 left, she got her 59th goal to up the lead to 6-0 on a pass by Marissa Basi.
For Basi it was her 36th assist of the season to move up into a tie for second on the IHSA all-time season assists list.
“Assists are hard to get and often overlooked,” Verbeck said. “Marissa is an incredible passer and very unselfish.”
With Carterville-Herrin gambling to get some pressure on the Kamryn Madinger, who replaced Addi Wall in goal at halftime, Bruce took a long pass and got behind the Lady Lions defense to score her third goal of the game and 24th for the season with 8:23 remaining.
On Clark’s next goal, the senior forward would become the sixth player in IHSA history to score 60 goals in a season. It was Clark’s last home game and she left the field with 2:32 remaining to a round of applause.
“It was a nice little senior walk off,” Clark said. “We have a lot to do before sectionals. We’re practicing tomorrow because we need to get in used to the heat because I think it’s supposed to be 90 up there Wednesday.”