MARYVILLE, Mo. — The Spoofhounds' adjustment period to first-year coach Jesus Gonzalez's new system seems to be ahead of schedule as Maryville has had a dominant start to the season.
Tuesday's 7-0 thrashing of Highway 71 rival Savannah improved the Hounds to 4-0 this season. In those four victories, Maryville has out-scored opponents 24-0.
“I am really happy,” Maryville senior Jordyn Suchan said of the start of the season. “I think that we have really worked hard during practices and it shows. … Not only on the field, but off the field, we have a good bond that helps with that. You can definitely see that every drill that we do pays off in the games.”
The high-flying Spoofhounds got going immediately offensively against Savannah as the opening possession found the foot of Suchan, which found the back of the net in the game's first minute.
The goal was scored before many fans found their seats, but for Suchan and her teammates, they had already been in game-mode for some time.
“It's obviously really fun to score, but off the bat after you step on the field, you have to have that mindset,” Suchan said. “An hour before the game, we are already in that mindset. We are already dressed and ready. We are just focused and I think it helps if we are just focused before the game even starts.
“We've already had that mindset an hour before the game and we are ready to start scoring. I think we all just really want to keep scoring so we all just get what we want.”
Maryville continued to dominate possession as Kennedy Kurz may have had the ball on her foot more than any other player. The sophomore worked the sideline pressuring the defense and creating opportunities.
In the 17th minute, Kurz's efforts were rewarded with her first goal of the night.
The third goal of the night came moments later from junior Cleo Johnson. The midfielder banked her shot off the far post and into the back of the net.
“If you watch the games, I think a lot of people are having a lot of fun watching the style of play that we are playing,” Maryville assistant coach Chase Tolson said. “... They have got to be enjoying themselves because they are just dominating possession every game.”
After Suchan scored again in the 26th minute, sophomore Halle Buck became the fourth different Spoofhound to score with a goal four minutes before halftime to extend the lead to 5-0.
Having all four of the team's primary offensive weapons score in the first half is an example of the opportunities that Gonzalez's style is intended to create.
“It isn't just a one-person effort, it is a team effort and I think that is the best part,” Kurz said.
While the possession-based, sharing-the-ball offense has been great in terms of spreading the attack around, the Spoofhounds also benefited from having the most dynamic player on the pitch with Johnson. She demonstrated what her presence can do for herself and others early in the second half.
“Every time that she touches the ball, something really good happens,” Tolson said.
The junior was bringing the ball down the sideline seven minutes into the second half, and spotted Kurz open on the other side of the field. Johnson fired a bullet pass across the field to Kurz who used her body to muscle the wide-open opportunity into the back of the net.
Kurz admitted that she thought about heading the ball, but considering the velocity of Johnson's cross, she determined that it might be better for her health to guide the ball in with her body instead of her head.
“Honestly, I saw it and I didn't want a concussion so I just ran into it,” Kurz said with a laugh.
A few minutes later, Johnson created for herself and put away the game's final goal.
Johnson, Suchan and Kurz each finished with two goals while Buck had one.
“I just have a good bond,” Suchan said. “We work so hard during practice and we each have our own skills that we have learned from the past and mashing them together, it is just easy to pick up on each other's tactics.”
While the offense was dynamic, the Spoofhound defense also shined with its fourth-straight shutout to begin the season. Sophomore goalkeeper Abby Swink won a preseason competition to lead the team in goal and the coaching staff has loved what they have seen from her.
“Abby has been awesome,” Tolson said. “She has spent a lot of time outside of practice going with a goalkeeper trainer. She has worked really hard, and she is great back there.”
Maryville will look to continue its unbeaten season on Thursday with a trip to Bishop LeBlond in St. Joseph. The team will travel to the Excelsior Springs Tournament this weekend.
“I think it is really nice that we've won these games, but I think we have to focus more on the future and the games coming ahead,” Kurz said.