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JCA, Matthews Break Away

Megan Matthews scored 3 goals, including a pair on breakaways, as the Joliet Catholic Academy girls soccer team opened the season with a 7-0 win over IMSA.

Give her a break?

Twice at Memorial Stadium, Joliet Catholic Academy’s Megan Matthews smiled and said thank you very much to the Angels in her midst for creating a pair of pretty breakaway attempts.

“It’s a great thing to score a goal, but it’s not just me,” Matthews said. “I received great passes from my teammates there in getting me the ball, and I was just the lucky one to score and take the credit.”

Credit was passed around like the soccer ball in the JCA girls’ season opener, with the majority going to Matthews. The junior forward netted 3 goals, including a couple on breakaways, for a 7-0 rout of IMSA.

Junior midfielder Maddie Kennedy contributed 3 assists for JCA (1-0) and junior midfielder/stopper Rachel Zampa added a goal and 2 assists. Junior goalkeeper Katie Schmig (1 save) recorded the shutout.

In complementing the three-year varsity trio of Matthews, Kennedy and Zampa, sophomore forwards Chloe Korst and Brittany Cunnea each chalked up a goal and an assist. The Angels led 3-0 at halftime.

But a 4-0 lead became a blowout as junior forward Carolyn Hall had a goal and senior midfielder Kellie Cunnea had an assist, helping the Angels score three times in a 4:53 span — including Matthews’ third.

It was Matthews’ second goal on a through-ball feed from Kennedy that built a 3-0 lead at 5:52 to go in the first half. After converting into the right corner on that break, she completed the hat trick into the lower-left corner at 18:06 to play in the second half by finessing a shot past the pulled-out goalkeeper.

“It’s so intense,” Matthews said of breakaways. “Nothing goes through your mind. I’m trying to not hit the goalie. The two others I missed, I hit the goalie and I should have aimed at a corner. On the last one, I made sure to pick a corner because I was so far out. I felt like I had to pick a corner in that case.”

“It was a great start to the season by Megan,” JCA coach Oscar Valdez said. “She injured her thigh during tryouts, so I was very skeptical, but she got healthy last week. It was amazing to see her and all the juniors, Rachel and Maddie — those guys were playing awesome. And our defense was awesome.”

Senior Meggie Fahrner, junior Stefani D’Andrea and sophomore Moira McSteen spearheaded the Angels’ defense throughout, limiting IMSA to a mere 2 shots. JCA totaled 29 shots, with 15 on goal.

And once Korst nailed the game-winner 9:10 into the first half on a cross from Kennedy, the Angels dominated. After Zampa blasted a shot off the crossbar, Matthews scored back-to-back goals, the first on a sweet dish from Zampa that saw Matthews move into the space and dent the short-side left corner.

Then, only 51 seconds into the second half, Zampa scored on a give-and-go with Brittany Cunnea, who followed with a goal of her own after Korst won a 50-50 battle. Matthews’ hatter put icing on the cake.

“We jelled really well as a team,” she said. “That’s the key, the most important part to succeeding.”

NOTES: The 3-0 halftime score suited Valdez perfectly. “Our idea was to come out and dictate the game, get it done quickly and show what we’re made of,” he said. “We still have stuff to work on, and that’s why we were bringing in people here and there. We need to see where we will be five games down the road.” … JCA came up empty on 7 corner kicks and Kennedy sailed a shot through the field-goal posts on a direct kick in the first half from three yards outside the box. “Those are the things we need to work on,” Valdez said. “A lot of the issues we were having on the corner kicks were our crosses. Our crosses weren’t there for the headers.” … The 70-degree gametime temperature was the mildest in recent memory for a girls soccer season opener, in sharp contrast to a brutally cold last spring … The best play that did not result in a goal featured a cross by Kennedy that Zampa one-timed from point-blank range into the goalkeeper’s body. It was one of many Kennedy-to-Zampa or Zampa-to-Kennedy hookups.

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