ST. CHARLES – Taking note of the considerable wind at the St. Charles East girls soccer team's back in the first half, Saints coach Paul Jennison told his girls they needed to be up 3-0 by halftime to be in position to win.
No problem, coach. The Saints didn't even need four minutes to meet that benchmark.
East blitzed Batavia with three scores in the game's first 3:30 on Saturday and held off Batavia, 4-2, in both teams' Upstate Eight Conference River Division openers.
Anna Corirossi, Carly Pottle and Amanda Hilton provided the finishes during the Saints' early feeding frenzy, and East maintained that 3-0 advantage through halftime.
"They didn't really know what hit them," Corirossi said. "It's a good thing we got those three goals because then we started to slow down a little bit."
As much as the wind factored in – Batavia outscored East, 2-1, with the wind advantage in the second half – Corirossi noted that the Saints' early finishes weren't directly attributable to favorable conditions.
"I wouldn't say it was the most important thing," Corirossi said. "I mean, it definitely helped having the wind at our backs at the beginning but they happened off of set pieces. It wasn't like we had long balls and we ran onto it."
Added Jennison: "You take set pieces out of the mix, and we lost that game 2-1. It goes to show how important it can be."
Jennison praised sophomore Darcy Cunningham and junior Shannon Rasmussen for their dead-ball deliveries, and also liked the grit with which the Saints showed throughout the afternoon.
"There's nothing better than when I'm seeing girls win a 50, 60 yard punt in the air, putting their head on it," Jennison said. "That's when it's like, alright, these girls are here to play."
Batavia (2-1-2) saw its deficit swell to 4-0 when East junior Sam Lombardo took advantage of a botched clearance attempt to score 10 minutes into the second half but the Bulldogs refused to let the match turn into a mockery.
Bulldogs freshman Megan McEachern scored on a header off junior Brittany Wahlen's flip-throw in midway through the second half, while senior Shelby Stone lofted home a deep strike in the waning minutes for the final goal.
"I didn't see anybody give up," Batavia coach Mark Gianfranceso said. "We panicked a little bit after the second and third goals. I wish we would have played more feet. … But they definitely came back and played harder in the second half."
The win improves East to 3-1 on the season ahead of a huge week for the Saints.
On Tuesday, East will welcome defending conference champion Geneva to Norris Stadium, and the Saints will then see Geneva again as part of a rugged tournament field later in the week, also at East.
"I'd like to think I know what we are as a team but I don't think [the players] know what they are as a team," Jennison said. "They're going to know by the end of this week.
"It's going to be incredibly tough. To play your local rivals once in a season is bad enough, to play them twice in a week, that's just a pure lottery."