AURORA — North Marion girls' soccer has continued to find its stride over the past three games.
Since dropping a 2-1 contest to Corbett on Tuesday, Sept. 21, the Huskies have rattled off three straight wins against Gladstone, Madras and, most recently, Estacada on Wednesday, Sept. 29.
North Marion hosted the visiting Rangers and won the game 4-0, never looking to be in any danger throughout the contest. The Huskies are now 3-1 in Tri-Valley Conference (TVC) play. Estacada falls to 1-2-1 in conference contests.
North Marion got on the board early. Three minutes into the contest, senior left defender Teagan Welch passed the ball up the left sideline to junior Saylor Swanson, who shot the ball on goal. Estacada's keeper made the save but couldn't hang on to the ball, and senior striker Dominique Huapeo was there to clean up for North Marion's first goal of the day.
"I think most of the chemistry is there," North Marion head coach Ben Bonser said after the game. "The finishing touches are the last little piece. It's almost there. We saw those moments out there. There were some good opportunities."
While that was the only goal of the half, it was entirely one-way traffic. North Marion's midfield, notably sophomore Yesenia Delgado, was able to disrupt any Estacada offense before it ever really became a threat. The Huskies back line was sterling as well, allowing no shots on target the first 40 minutes. Part of that was simply moving pieces around to find the right fit, according to Bonser.
"Teagan's coming out of left back as well," Bonser said. "That was one of the changes we made. She was playing holding, and we slid her back to the position she's played the last few years at left defense, and she's getting more attack out of left defense than she was at holding. It was a good change and adjustment. And then Yesenia taking that holding midspot where she's really settling down there making sure the ball doesn't get through her."
The second half was more of the same. North Marion's offense kept the pedal to the metal and didn't allow Estacada many forays into the attacking third. Consequently, North Marion got a lot of good looks on goal and was able to capitalize on three more opportunities.
At the 25th minute of the half, Huapeo seized on an opening just outside the box, delivering a huge shot into the upper left-hand corner of the goal to bring the home team a 2-0 lead. With 6:58 minutes left to go in the game, Huapeo seized upon another opportunity, again cleaning up a deflected shot inside the Estacada box to complete the hat trick.
"We've been working on following the ball a lot," Huapeo said. Huapeo also scored a hat trick in the team's previous game, and 8-0 victory over Madras "Two of my goals were just following the ball."
The final goal of the game was an Estacada own goal, brought about when the goalkeeper kicked the ball off her defender and back into the Rangers net. North Marion earned its fifth win of the season 4-0.
Despite earning its third victory in a row, North Marion can still improve, Huapeo said.
"We've just been working on finishing and connecting," he said. "In the beginning of the season we were struggling with that a lot. Moving forward we just want to keep finishing and keep connecting the ball and possessing the game."
Since starting the season 0-1-1, the third-ranked Huskies (5-2-1) now have a full head of steam heading into an extended series of road games starting Tuesday, Oct. 5, against Molalla (3-4-1).
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