GENEVA – Several young Geneva girls soccer fans scurried onto Burgess Field moments after the Vikings' rout of West Aurora ended early Saturday afternoon.
One child stood in goal while the rest ripped away with close-range shots.
The pattern looked familiar.
More comfortable with each other and the team's new 4-3-3 alignment after a week of training between games, the Vikings blitzed the Blackhawks, 8-0. Switching from a 4-4-2 scheme entering the season, Geneva is aiming to create more offensive chances, even for its back line.
"I like it, personally, as a defender. I think it gives us a lot more opportunities up top," Vikings junior Tory Herbst said. "I think our cover is great up there. Our goals today were really good. We had people running up and then getting off the rebound, which is something we kind of lacked last year, I think. So I like it. I hope we stay with it. I think our team is going to jell pretty well with that."
Senior stalwarts Molly Axen (three goals, one assist) and Amanda Lulek (two goals, one assist) capitalized most often in Geneva's unrelenting attack.
Freshman midfielder/forward Maureen Kozlow nearly beat the duo to the punch, but her early goal was disallowed when the Vikings were ruled offside.
The Vikings (1-1) needed little time to recover, tallying their five first-half goals within a span of 16:18. Freshman midfielder Taylor Williams notched the fourth goal in that sequence, delighting the crowd and Kozlow, her friend and Strikers Fox Valley club teammate.
Both freshmen debuted in Geneva's 2-1 loss to Waubonsie Valley on March 16 and are eager to keep gaining skills and adjusting to the varsity game.
"Exciting and a lot of fun," Kozlow said. "It's a good experience."
The match began about 10 minutes before its initial start time after the Geneva JV scored a similar result. The match lost about 15 minutes of clock time when the Vikings triggered the mercy rule against the Blackhawks (0-2) with their seventh goal early in the second half.
Lulek beat Blackhawks goalkeeper Jasmine Mejia for the seventh goal after Axen expertly weaved through defenders down the ride side.
Samantha Hauser posted the shutout for Geneva, deflecting the few chances West Aurora mustered. Blackhawks defender Sam O'Brien created some concern with her long flip throw-ins, but Herbst and co. routinely cleared the pressure.
Annie Waldoch and Megan Fitz also scored, with Molly Stanfa (two) and Allie Mikos adding assists.
"We just tried to keep possession and keep [moving] forward, keep attacking and keep our shape defensively," Kozlow said.
Geneva coach Megan Owens gave players Sunday through Wednesday off as they brace for what she called an "insanely tough" stretch to begin April. The week includes an Upstate Eight Conference River Division match at St. Charles East before three games in East's tournament.
Until then, the Vikings will look to stay sharp when they travel south to Granite City and Edwardsville for their spring break trip next Thursday and Saturday. Granite City won the 3A state championship in 2011.
"It's just good experience, especially in the beginning of the season, to kind of prepare ourselves for these next [conference] games coming up where it really matters, you know," Herbst said. "They're nice schools and nice teams.
"It's nice to kind of just go blindly into it and see what we can add to it without the external factors of rivalries."