KOUTS -- This whole soccer thing seems to come pretty easily to Ella Patterson.
The Kouts sophomore, who didn't even know what a hat trick was -- that's three goals in a match, Ella -- fashioned the scoring feat in Wednesday's 5-1 win over Marquette Catholic in the Class A Kouts Sectional semifinals.
"She has fantastic footwork. She has great touches. She's been a great addition to the team," Fillies coach Tim Schwartz said. "She works so hard. She also runs cross country. She's an athlete. She plays relaxed. When we started in the summer, I saw she had good form. I thought she had played."
"I've never played soccer. I don't know, maybe in like Kindergarten," Patterson said. "I did soccer because of (teammate) Cassidy (Ryan). She cheers me up. The team gets so excited when we score, it just makes me feel good, so I try harder."
Pretty simple formula, huh?
"Ella's really come on late in the season," Schwartz said. "That's nine goals in about the last two weeks. She's figured out how to finish as opposed to just shooting. She's always been aggressive, now she's doing better at hitting targets, passing the ball into the corners."
On a team with a prolific scorer in Lydia Reasoner, who had Kouts' other two goals and is approaching for the season, Patterson gives defenses someone else to worry about.
"Lydia is a relentless goal scorer," Schwartz said. "She's been the one putting it in the back of the net, especially when we've needed a critical goal. Other girls are starting to score lately, which helps take the load off her and makes the defense focus on somebody else."
A hurdler/long jumper in track and field, Patterson is surprised by her success, saying the advice of teammates in practice helps.
"I was so nervous to play Morgan in the sectional (Tuesday)," she said. "When we won the game, the nerves went away for this game."
Unlike that game and the previous match with Marquette, Kouts scored first and often, notching three goals in the first 15 minutes.
"Marquette's a dangerous team for sure. (Riley Lindsey) and (Maddie Rowley) have such strong legs. They can hit it from anywhere," Schwartz said. "What we kept harping on was keep the pressure on because they can really launch the ball. We wanted to make sure we shut them out, not give them that opportunity, score first, and move on from there. We did that to perfection. It's tough to play two nights in a row, especially with the big win last night, but they did a nice job, being so young and inexperienced, figuring out
how to play hard and finish. We have 11 freshmen or sophomores. We've been such a work in progress all year."
Lindsey's long-range shot broke the shutout in the 69th minute to briefly draw Marquette within two at 3-1 but Kouts answered with two goals in the next minute or so.
"Especially at the 1A or 2A level, one or two special players doing one or two special things can change the game," said Marquette coach Ali Jamali, who picked up two players from the golf team a few weeks ago in order to have enough girls to field a full lineup. "(Kouts) had it. You have to show up and play your best every day. It wasn't our best effort. It tells me if we had played up to the level we can, it could have been different. It comes down to level of experience."