Experienced Solon Strikes Early in Season-opening Win Over Regina
Your Prep Sports
SOLON – Among the biggest benefits of a team returning a lineup nearly entirely intact is the ability to be functioning at a high level early in the season.
It took less than 30 seconds for Solon to reap the benefits of its returning experience in its season opener on Monday.
Solon, which returns 10 starters from last year’s team, scored a goal 30 seconds into the match on its way to a 4-2 win over Regina in the season opener for both teams at Spartan Stadium in Solon.
“I can’t take any credit for that, that was the girls coming out excited for their first home game and being ready to go. That wasn’t on me,” Solon coach Amanda Paulson said of the quick goal. “The girls were excited, they’ve been working hard and the first game is always a little nerve-wracking but we are fortunate that we return most of our team, we only lost one starter, so I feel like we are in a good starting place as far as gelling with each other.”
All the experience in world can’t account for a goal 30 seconds into the season.
However, a group of 10 returning starters including the top three goal scorers from a team that went 16-4 and advanced to a regional final for the second year in a row has Solon expecting a breakthrough in 2023.
Monday’s performance only heightened already high preseason expectations.
“I think this year is going to be our year,” Solon sophomore Rose McAtee said. “We have a lot of connection on and off the field and I think that brings us together and helps us form a connection on the field.”
Three Spartans scored on Monday, led by McAtee who had two goals including the early strike off a Georgia Havlicek assist that gave the Spartans a big boost early.
I was so surprised, scoring in the first minute was a big surprise,” Havlicek said. “I think that caught us off guard but it was good that we got that one I think that was what really carried us through.”
Regina (0-1) pulled even at 1-1 on a goal by senior standout Grace Gaarce with 12:26 remaining in the first half.
Gaarde, who has scored 29 goals in each of the past two seasons, added a second goal with 18:15 remaining in the match but it wasn’t enough for Regina.
“What we said to them is apparently we didn’t have them prepared as coaches to play at the beginning of the game and we had to reset and start over from that,” Regina coach Anne Larew said. “It doesn’t help when you dig yourself a hole right in the beginning but I think we moved on from that.”
After the equalizer from Gaarde with 12:26 remaining in the first half Solon scored twice in a span of less than two minutes to take a 3-1 halftime lead.
Havlicek snapped the 1-1 tie with a goal with 8:19 remaining in the first half and Morgan Link made it 3-1 Solon with a goal with 6:24 left in the first half.
“Going into it we definitely had our expectations really high and we knew we would have to fight for this one,” Havlicek said. “I feel that is what started us off strong, is we knew we had to come out hard. This is a great win.”
A second goal by McAtee in the 54th minute gave Solon a 4-2 lead.
McAtee scored 12 goals a year ago and Link had a team-high 23 goals last season.
Together those two give the Spartans the most dynamic scoring combination in recent seasons.
“I was really happy with the combination play up top and the creativity up top,” Paulson said. “That is one piece that I think we have been missing the last couple of years just the ability to score some creative goals.”
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