Pass-first Trojans blast Redettes
On Monday, the host Fairfield Trojans, currently ranked No. 14 in Iowa, were facing the Centerville Redettes.
The scoreless nonconference contest was less than four minutes old.
At midfield, Trojan Mikaela Lunsford had the ball at her toe. She passed to fellow midfielder Ella Pollet. Pollet made a smooth pass to forward Emma Rosner.
Pollet cut toward the goal and Rosner delivered a perfect to-the-toe pass back to Pollet. Then Pollet spotted Kristin Burnstedt open 15 yards from Centerville’s net.
Then Burnstedt delivered a rocket: That soccer ball went untouched, blasting into the net.
Less than three minutes later, Lunsford passed to Rosner. Rosner passed to Pollet. Pollet passed back to Rosner. Rosner then buried a 6-yarder into the net.
Ahead 2-0, six minutes later, Trojan Nicole Buch made a steal, passed forward to Burnstedt who made a perfect leading pass to Bryanna Popejoy — and Popejoy delivered a 9-yard missile into the net.
Three minutes later, Rosner passed to Buch. Buch passed to Pollet. Pollet passed to Rosner, and Rosner finished things off with a short-range goal.
And so it went.
Making crisp, excellent passes at a dizzying pace, out-shooting Centerville 24-0, Fairfield led 9-0 at halftime.
“When we practice a lot of these plays in practice, we have to make so many passes before any of us can take a shot,” explained Rosner. “That’s where all that passing comes from before we shoot.”
Rosner scored with 24:49 left in the second half, upping Fairfield’s lead to 10-0, and finishing the contest via the mercy-rule.
For the game, Fairfield (4-0) outshot Centerville 29-0.
Trojan keeper Kelsey Hollander is very good. But on Monday, her defenders, midfielders and forwards were so dominant, Hollander never touched the soccer ball. Not even a slow dribbler.
“Kelsey is good,” Rosner said. “And Shannon (Morrissey) keeps everything together in the backfield for us. Mikaela is a backbone for us in the midfield with Ella Pollet. Overall, we’re a very strong team.”
This strong, effective team — this excellent passing and scoring machine — is led by Rosner. She scored four goals and had two assists on Monday.
“Emma has played soccer since she could walk,” Burnstedt said. “She practices all year round. She deserves everything she gets.”
Burnstedt is also a tremendous forward. She had a hat trick on Monday plus an assist.
“We score a lot of our goals from good passes,” Burnstedt said. “We’ve all been playing together for a few years. We’re used to each other now.”
Also for Fairfield on Monday, Alie Kensett scored a goal, Pollet had two assists and Lunsford one.
“This year, we’re working on passing the ball more,” Lunsford said. “We’re using triangles, working with the ball, getting better goals.”
Said Pollet, “My job is to pass, distribute the ball and get it to our forwards. I usually look for Emma or Kristin because they’re our leading scorers.”
This season, the Trojans have outscored their foes by the collective total of 30-3.
It’s not by accident.
“This year, we are concentrating on making solid passes,” explained head coach Mandy Mellum. “We have an experienced team now, so we’re stressing ball distribution, utilizing the whole field.
“Mikaela and Ella are doing a good job of winning the ball in the middle of the field.
“Kristin Burnstedt is excellent at placement and is doing a great job. She’s so unselfish. She’ll evaluate if she has the best shot. If so, she’ll take it. If not, she’ll get it to another player.
“And Emma Rosner is such a go-getter. She sets the pace for this team. She’s a great finisher, too.”
The Trojans, who host Knoxville tonight (5:30 p.m.), are clearly having fun playing solid team soccer.
“It’s not about how many goals we score each game,” Mellum said. “It’s about how we play. Success is doing better in each game than we played before.
“And tonight? Our girls did a great job.”