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Girls soccer: Bulldogs storm past Trojans

May 1—FAIRFIELD — It had been 33 matches since Addison Knaak had scored a goal for the Ottumwa High School girls soccer team.

After scoring three goals in her first two seasons for the Bulldogs, both losing seasons, Knaak has stepped up to help Ottumwa produce the winningest stretch in the program's history as senior midfielder providing one of the last lines of defense to stymie the attack of the opposing teams. That doesn't mean that Knaak hasn't been looking for another chance to find the back of the net on the other end of the field.

"I usually try to go up on corner kicks and try to get my foot in there to help us score a goal," Knaak said. "It was actually a joke going into (Tuesday) that I was going to finally get my first goal of this season."

It was no joke. It was reality as Knaak was able to get her foot on the ball off a corner kick by Mia Garza-Trejo in the 20th minute of Ottumwa's match at Fairfield.

Knaak just pushed the ball into an opening before Fairfield freshman goal keeper Jaden Haynes could get to the corner of the net, becoming the fourth different Ottumwa player to score in the first half. The balanced attack would continue over the next 45 minutes as seven different Bulldog players recorded at least one goal, including the first goals this season for Jhiara Garcia Monzon and Yuritzy Botello-Hernandez, helping clinch Ottumwa's most decisive win yet this season finishing off a 10-0 win over the winless Trojans in just under 65 minutes.

"Yuritzy was also joking before the match that she was going to get her first goal, so for both of us to score our first goals in the same match was pretty good," Knaak said. "We practice a lot on our attack. It's really been paying off."

Ottumwa produced a season-high 52 shots in Tuesday's match including 34 shots sent on goal in the mercy-rule win. Botello-Hernandez scored her first goal of the season less than 10 minutes into the second half, giving Ottumwa an 8-0 lead.

Mia Garza-Trejo added her second goal of the match on an attack in the 56th minute, opening a 9-0 lead with plenty of time left for Ottumwa to end the match early by opening a 10-0 goal second-half lead. Several Bulldogs looked to score the match-clincher including Monzon, Jadyn Hallgren, Pyie Win and Calyn Tucker all with quality strikes that either sailed just above the crossbar, just past either post or were stopped by Haynes during the relentless final push.

In the end, Ottumwa's all-time leading goal scorer was the one to end Ottumwa's most explosive night of the season. Garza-Trejo completed her third consecutive hat trick, finding the back of the net from nearly 30 yards out for her first goal of the night and team-leading 16th goal of the season closing out what proved to be Ottumwa's shortest match so far this year.

"We got a lot of shots on frame. That was super important," Ottumwa head girls soccer coach Matthew Erlandson said. "We don't play a lot our on natural grass, but the girls figured it our really quick. There were girls that probably wish they had a few chances back, but over the past several weeks we've been proving that we can score plenty of girls.

"We want to continue to play through every match with a chip on our shoulders. People still think we're the same old Ottumwa girls soccer team. We've got to show them we're the new Ottumwa girls soccer team. To watch all the girls be involved in our attack and watch our unselfish they are is fun to see."

Garza-Trejo completed Ottumwa's first attack for a goal, finding the back of the net less than five minutes after the opening kickoff. Ilana Vasconez would score the first of her two goals in the match off a turnover in the 16th minute, helping Ottumwa gradually stretch out their lead at the Dexter Soccer Park.

"This was one of the first matches I've been a part of where so many different people were able to score multiple times," Vasconez said after reaching 10 goals in a season for the second straight year. "It's great to see that anyone on our team can score. It opens up the field for everyone and makes it more fun out there to move the ball like that."

Haley Pao tripled her goal total for the season on Tuesday, finding the back of the net for her second career varsity goal in the 15th minute on a long strike that doubled Ottumwa's 1-0 lead. Pao would put the ball in the back of the net for the second time in the match, and third time this season, on Ottumwa's third consecutive corner kick in the opening moments of the second half putting the Bulldogs up 7-0.

"I got nervous at first, but once I scored my first goal, I started getting more confidence in myself," Pao said. "Seeing us score more and more gave me even more confidence. That's what led to that second goal."

Tuesday's win added to the recent successful history for the Bulldog girls soccer team, matching the program record for single-season wins improving to 7-4 with seven wins in the past eight matches. Coming off a 7-7 season last spring, Ottumwa has now produced their most successful two-year stretch with 14 combined wins.

The Bulldogs can set a program record this week, weather permitting, as Ottumwa is scheduled to host Centerville on Thursday for Teacher-staff Appreciation Night at Schafer Stadium before traveling to Des Moines East for an Iowa Alliance Conference south division match at Williams Stadium. One more win will mark the first time in program history that the Bulldogs have won eight matches in a single season.

Ottumwa, however, is aiming even higher this year. The Bulldogs are aiming to reach double figures in victories for the first time, needing at least three wins in the next six matches to clinch that milestone before the regular season concludes.

"We're not finished with anything," Erlandson said. "It could be easy to be satisfied with what we've already achieved, but these girls want more. We want to keep pressing and continue to re-write the record book for Ottumwa girls soccer."

While Ottumwa is achieving unprecedented success, Fairfield is looking for the type of turnaround the Bulldogs have made as a program. The Trojans fell to 0-9 and have now lost 46 of 51 matches over the past four seasons.

"It's just a matter of getting girls to believe and putting in the time and effort," Erlandson said. "You have to the things you don't want to in order to achieve the things you want. Our girls have put in the work in club soccer and working over the winter in agilities getting ready for the season. That's what they want to do. Hopefully, Fairfield can get that point as well."

— Scott Jackson can be reached at sjackson@ottumwacourier.com. Follow him on Twitter@CourierScott.