In the midst of recording their second straight shutout win, the Northland Prep Spartans dominated possession and defeated the Blue Ridge Yellowjackets for the first time in team history.
Holding the Yellowjackets (1-1) to one lone shot on goal, the Spartans (2-0) cruised to a 6-0 victory Thursday at Sinagua Middle School, with freshman Mia Blair recording a hat trick in her second career high school match. Blair opened the scoring in the 15th minute, putting a ball into the lower-right corner of the goal from roughly 20 yards out.
“We knew they were just going to sink in and really hold all their defenders and players back,” said Spartans co-head coach Michael Blair. “So we just want to be patient, break them down and get through. We did six times and we had a ton of great shots.”
Northland Prep outshot Blue Ridge 21-1 on goal while also earning 16 corner kicks. The Spartans held the Yellowjackets without a corner for all 80 minutes of the match. The Spartans kept the ball in their offensive half for nearly the entire day, with Blue Ridge breaking away for its lone shot against first-half goalkeeper Payten Schmidt early on.
Lauren James took over in goal for the second half, but did not face any challenge as the Spartans continually kept pressure with their offense.
“What’s great with those corners is we have been working on pounding it, and we have a couple different set pieces out of that, four or five, and they did them on their own,” Michael Blair said. “All respect to Blue Ridge. They will be there in the end because we have never beat them before in program history, so this was our time to change it and here we are.”
While many of their chances ended up in the hands of Blue Ridge’s goalkeeper, both Mia and Emma Blair added some cushion to Northland Prep’s lead in quick succession. Mia Blair put in her second goal of the day off of a rebound right in front of the goal in the 31st minute. After Kiarra Hovis took control of the ball right off of the kickoff, Emma Blair scored just 30 seconds later on a shot to the left side of the net.
After leading 3-0 at the half, Mia Blair put in her third goal in the 47th minute as the ball took a high bounce and dropped into the middle of the box. Fellow freshmen Hovis and Ellie Karren rounded out the scoring in the second half, leading to the 6-0 final. Hovis drove a hard shot just inside the left post in the 69th minute before Karren tapped in a shot from close range.
Hovis’ goal added to three assists in the game, with Mia Blair, Emma Heitkamp and Ginger Blodgett each accounting for one assist each.
Blair, who now has four goals in two games played, said she was just happy to finally be able to play alongside her sister on the varsity team and praised her teammates for making her scoring opportunities possible.
Using her breakaway speed in the middle, Blair has been an offensive powerhouse, as she, Hovis and Karren have now accounted for seven of the team’s 12 goals and assists.
“She took one straight out of the air on a volley,” Michael Blair said of Mia's third goal. “That’s some advanced stuff and these girls are advanced players, so it is great to see.”
Northland Prep plays at Payson on Tuesday at 2 p.m. for its first 2A Conference Central Region match of the year.