Riverhawks unkind to Wa-Hi girls in home soccer opener

Chiawana's Erin Huisingh has a hat trick in the 5-0 victory over the Blue Devils Saturday on the Wa-Hi pitch.

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WALLA WALLA - Chiawana's Erin Huisingh spoiled Wa-Hi's Columbia Basin Big Nine Class 4A girls soccer league opener and first-year varsity girls coach Jesse Cruz's home coaching debut here Saturday at the Wa-Hi pitch.

Huisingh, who has signed to play soccer at Concordia University in Portland next season, scored a hat trick to lead the Riverhawks to a 5-0 win over the Blue Devils.

"We're playing against good side teams that play all year long," Cruz said of Wa-Hi's 0-2 overall, 0-1 league start to the 2010 season. "(Huisingh) is a handful. We have a lot of work to do. We are still young in the sense that we have to know the game."

The Riverhawks got on the board early as Lexi Miller beat the Blue Devil defense with a crossover move and fired her shot into the lower-right corner from 15 yards out and Chiawana took a 1-0 lead less than four minutes in.

Wa-Hi senior Kailee Davisson, one of only three seniors on the roster, drew a foul 15 yards deep in the Riverhawk end in the 15th minute. Paige Pontarolo blasted her free kick right on goal, but Riverhawk keeper Carmen Avila caught it waist high to turn away the Blue Devil opportunity.

Forty seconds later, Huisingh got the first of her three goals and Chiawana took a 2-0 lead.

Wa-Hi earned its only corner kick of the half in the 25th minute, but the Riverhawk defense cleared Alexis Sanchez's kick without any damage being done.

Sanchez had a chance off a centering pass from Pontarolo in the 37th minute, but Avila was there to make the catch.

Huisingh converted a 2-on-1 Riverhawk break with 3:20 left in the half to run the lead to 3-0.

Alison Zander found Rosa Escalante down the left side for Wa-Hi in the 38th minute, but Escalante's left-footed boot was snagged by Avila, and Chiawana took a 3-0 lead to intermission.

"The effort was there," Cruz said. "They (Wa-Hi) played everything at 110 percent. It's all about knowing the game and reading the game. That's going to be my hardest job to put it in their heads that they have to learn the game before they get the ball."

The Riverhawks earned a corner kick, their fourth of five on the day, with 1:30 gone in the second half. Huisingh's kick was batted away by Wa-Hi goalie Vanessa Wyckoff, but the rebound was booted to an open net before Wa-Hi's Anna Pettyjohn dropped back and kicked the shot away.

Chiawana broke the second-half scoring drought with a fortunate bounce. Wyckoff came off her line and blocked Miller's shot, but the rebound landed at Ashley Kelly's feet and Kelly had an open net for a 4-0 Riverhawk lead with 27:40 left in the match.

Huisingh wrapped up the scoring in the 76th minute with her third goal of the day to cap Chiawana's 5-0 win.

The loss opened league play and Cruz's CBBN 4A coaching debut. Cruz has moved from the boys junior varsity soccer coach to take over the girls varsity with only keepers Wyckoff and Kaitlynn Griffith, who was in goal the first half against the Riverhawks, and forward Davisson, as the senior anchors.

"We have three seniors," Cruz said. "We're going to try and do something special so they can build something from this (their season)."

The task for the Blue Devils will not come easy, but Cruz believes the journey will pay off.

"My goal is for them to learn the game," Cruz continued. "It's just a matter of time for it to click. Once they get it, we'll be OK and get some wins.

"It's going to be tough because these Tri-Cities teams are pretty good," he added. "They play (on) club teams and select teams, which we don't have that luxury. We have (junior Paige) Pontarolo, who is an excellent player and (sophomore defender) Brigit (Lyons), who shuts down every player that she plays against. However, we need 11 to win.

"We need to relax, go with the flow, and if playing the ball, keep the ball," Cruz said. "The effort is there. We're working too hard when we just need to understand how to settle down and relax. It will all come with experience. It's disappointing (the two losses), but it will take time. We have to continue to work."

The Blue Devils host Richland Saturday.

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