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The Stow-Munroe Falls field hockey team opened the 2016 campaign Aug. 23 at Marhofer Field with a convincing 6-0 win over Walsh Jesuit.
The Bulldogs are looking to build upon the success of last season while Walsh is in the developmental stage of ots field hockey program.
Senior forward Sam Houk led the offense with three goals,while senior midfielder Jessica Lloyd, junior midfielder Audrey Grone and sophomore Katie Goodenow each chipped in one goal for the Bulldogs.
Stow controlled the ball in the scoring zone for most of the game, as the Bulldogs registered 22 shots on goal and 16 penalty corners.
Stow scored its first goal of the game at the 28:13 mark as Goodenow powered through the middle of the Warriors defense and found the back of the net.
Two minutes later, after Stow's first corner, Goodenow delivered a crisp pass to Lloyd who navigated through the Walsh defense to score her first goal of the season, as the Bulldogs took an early 2-0 lead.
The early scoring continued at the 23:24 mark as Grone delivered a pass to Houk on the left side and she scored Stow's third goal of the game, flicking the ball deftly past the Warriors goalkeeper.
Stow's offense stayed on the attack, but despite multiple shots on goal, the Warriors defense stiffened and began to control the ball and challenge the Bulldogs defense.
Stow's defense prevailed, led by senior defensive backs Gabriella Kingston, Maddie Fink and Audra Harris, thwarting each attack and pushing the ball up field to the midfield mark.
Junior midfielder Madison Kalpac passed to Grone and after a fierce battle for the ball, punched in her first goal of the season, as Stow took a 4-0 lead with 12 minutes remaining in the first half.
Walsh made another good run at the Stow defense, but junior defensive backs Jenna Lynner and Kerri Lockard turned away the Warriors.
Junior midfielder Ella Roberts teamed up with senior forward Leanne Bunnell and advanced the ball into the scoring zone once again.
As the first half was winding down, junior forward Kia Tubergen advanced the ball to Goodenow who battled several Walsh defenders and found Houk open near the net. Houk bounced off two Walsh defensive backs and scored her second goal of the game as Stow took a commanding 5-0 leading at halftime.
In her second season leading the Bulldogs, head coach Virginia Wohlabaugh was "very pleased with her team's performance in the first half."
"The offense controlled the tempo and kept the pressure on Walsh's defense and our defense and midfielders kept delivering the ball up the field," Wohlabaugh said.
The Warriors came out in the second half with spirit and fought the Bulldogs for every possession.
Walsh is in the second year of its field hockey program and rotates three lines throughout the game. The Warriors' depth challenged Stow throughout the second half and contained the Bulldogs potent offense.
Stow stayed on the attack, however, as Kingston and junior midfielders Jenna Deverall and Roberts worked the ball to Houk and Goodenow, but Walsh's defense rebuffed each Stow attempt at the goal.
At the 11 minute mark, Roberts controlled the ball and once again pushed through the Walsh defense, but her shot on goal was kicked back by the Walsh goalkeeper.
The Warriors gained control of the ball and moved through Stow's defense, but senior sweeper Kimberly Schirra stopped the advance.
After good defensive efforts by Kingston, Lynner and Harris, Stow advanced the ball back up field. Grone and Kalpac delivered excellent passes, advancing the ball to Houk who scored her third goal of the game with just under five minutes remaining to close out the scoring.
Sophomore Emma Hurguy split time with freshman Audrey Stone in goal for the Bulldogs.
"We worked on passing and ball movement in the second half to open up the field," Wohlabaugh said. "It was good to see that we had four players score goals today and Houk earned a hat trick as well. It was an excellent team win for us."
Wohlabaugh noted that Walsh "played with guts and determination and will no doubt continue to build an excellent field hockey program."
Stow was set to play Hilliard Darby at Western Reserve Academy Aug. 27, but results were not available at press time.
The Bulldogs will travel to Cleveland Heights Aug. 30 at 4:30 p.m.