The Warriors’ practice was limited, their game experience zero, but none of that mattered in their home opener.
The Whittell girls soccer team made a strong opening statement with a 5-0 win over Chester (Calif.) in a nonleague game at Whittell on Thursday.
“It was good to be on the field and work the width of the field,” head coach Patrick Kelly said. “I thought we did all right, but I’d really like to see some improvement. I think there were some nerves, but overall, we moved the ball well.”
Behind that win was a deep bench loaded with seniors. The Warriors have 24 players total this year and seven seniors returning from last year’s team, which finished 16-9-2.
“Our senior leadership this year is really huge for us through the middle,” Kelly said.
That leadership starts with the Warriors’ star goalkeeper Brittany Boulet, who was sidelined with an injury the second half of last season. Then that senior strength moves up to sweeper Skylar Smith, who takes command of the backfield and has offensive skills to match when the time comes. The line continues to Jenny Shepack at center striker.
Shepack led the Warriors’ offense with 17 goals last season. She started her 2013 collection with two on Thursday.
Shepack notched the Warriors’ second goal off an assist from Kenya Maltase, and the fourth on a penalty kick in the second half.
But it was Maltase, a sophomore, who struck first for Whittell. She netted the first goal off a pass from Alison Copsy four minutes into the game.
As freshmen last year, both Maltase and Katherine Krolicki were two of the Warriors’ leading scorers. Maltase notched 14 goals and Krolicki 11.
After her first goal on Thursday, Maltase blasted in the third goal of the game from about 30 yards out off a pass from Madison Idso.
“She took a nice touch and saw her shot and it was a really nice location,” Kelly said.
Gisselle Benitez added goal No. 5 with 18 minutes remaining in the game.
“This is one of the first years that we’ve really had a lot of skilled players at a lot of different positions, and it’s a good problem to have as a coach,” Kelly said. “Everybody wants to be on the field. We have 24 girls on the field, and luckily we have 24 uniforms.”
UP NEXT: The Warriors have some time off before they travel to West Wendover on Sept. 13 and White Pine on Sept. 14.