Plainwell defeated St. Joseph 5-0 in the Division 2 girls soccer district opener on Wednesday. St. Joseph struggled from the outset.
Kayla Baar and Laken Whittington of Plainwell each scored and assisted on a goal within the first eight minutes, and the Trojans never relinquished the lead. Later, Baar scored two more goals to complete his hat trick.
“(Barr and Whittington) were quick, athletic, and effective in one-on-one situations,” St. Joseph head coach Chris Froelich said. “They were directly in our faces from the very outset. They are an excellent team.”
St. Joseph (10-4-3) fired the first shot on goal, but Plainwell (14-2-3) dominated play thereafter. Baar dribbled down the right flank and crossed the ball to Whittington, who scored the game’s first goal in the third minute.
A little more than a minute later, Whittington played a through pass to Baar, who scored but was called offside. That merely slowed down her scoring rampage. In the eighth minute, she received another pass from Whittington and blasted a powerful shot past the goalkeeper to make the score 2-0.
Baar scored again in the 22nd minute to make the score 3-0 at halftime.
St. Joseph held the Trojans scoreless for over 40 minutes before Baar and Alayna Eldred scored late goals to put the contest out of reach.
Froelich stated, “We fought a little bit, and then they were able to bury a few more to seal the deal.” “This is a very strong combination. I believe that in the upcoming stages, their opponents will have their hands full.
Plainwell will play its neighbor Otsego in the district semifinals at Lakeshore on Tuesday at 7 p.m. As the top seed, the host Lancers had a bye and will play Tuesday at 5 p.m. against the victor of today’s contest between Niles and Edwardsburg.
Since 2018, St. Joseph was eliminated from district play for the first time. The Bears won the district championship in 2019, 2021, and 2022, while spring sports were canceled in 2020.
They are losing nine seniors, many of whom contributed substantially to that tournament victory and aided the team to another strong record this year.
“These seniors contributed significantly to the last two district championships,” Froelich stated. “This is a solid crew. In the future, we will be required to replace this senior group, despite the fact that it is difficult to do so.
I am extremely delighted of my team’s accomplishments throughout the entire year.
Plainwell 5, St. Joseph 0
Goals — Kayla Baar 3, Laken Whittington, Alayna Eldred.
Assists — Barr, Whittington.
Shots on goal — Plainwell 10, St. Joseph 2.
Saves — Clara Berry (SJ) 5, Eliza Harris (P) 1.
Halftime — Plainwell 3-0.
Records — Plainwell 14-2-3, St. Joseph 10-4-3.