Free State High's girls soccer team has many reasons to feel confident. One is sophomore goalie Kendra Jones, who robbed Topeka Hayden of several goals in the Firebirds' 5-0 victory on Saturday at FSHS.
"Kendra Jones played really well for us," Free State coach Jason Pendleton said. "She's been playing for Alicia Sellon the last three games. She has really stepped up and given the team a lot of confidence."
The Firebirds came out firing against Hayden goalie Megan Martin. Barely eight minutes into the game, Meredith Mayo scored on an assist from Katie Rhodes. One minute later, Katy Vormehr knocked the ball past Martin.
Hayden tried to respond, but Randee Laha's shot was blocked by Jones, resulting in a corner kick. The Wildcats were unable to capitalize on the kick, and Hayden's Kalee Silovsky blasted the rebound toward Jones, but it sailed up and over the goal.
At the 26-minute mark, Free State's April Del Campo knocked in a shot off a pass from Kristin Bock, staking the Firebirds to a 3-0 halftime lead.
Vormehr struck again five minutes into the second half, this time on a breakaway.
Rhodes, Lauren Wilkinson, Kelsey Mellard and Stephanie Miller all contributed to Free State's unbreakable defense. Rhodes managed a save midway through the second after Jones fumbled an attempt, keeping Hayden from scoring.
"A lot of Hayden's shots were long, dangerous shots from midfield, which we prefer teams to take because we have a better chance of stopping them," Pendleton said. "I felt real good about the defense Lauren and Kelsey, Stephanie and Katie. They did a great job keeping them from getting behind us and creating lots of dangerous, right-in-front-of-the-goal opportunities, and they forced them to shoot from way outside."
Vormehr scored the final goal for the Firebirds with an assist from Emilie Humbarger.
Free State (6-5), which has won three in a row, now has shut out ranked opponents in back-to-back games, also blanking Olathe North, 1-0, on Thursday.
"Last year we were 5-11-1," Pendleton said. "So to be 6-5 with five regular season games to go, we feel like we've got a great chance to do some positive things and extend our win streak."
The Firebirds will meet Leavenworth at the Youth Sports Inc. fields on Monday.