Free State High soccer coach Kelly Barah could sense his team was pressing.
Though the Firebirds had dominated possession in the first half against Shawnee Mission North, they had gone most of the first half without scoring.
“We started trying to look for the final (pass),” Barah said, “instead of trying to set it up a little bit better.”
Free State settled down soon enough, when a pass from Tanna Fanshier led to a Rosemary Newsome goal in the 39th minute — the first of many scores in a 7-0 Firebirds’ victory Thursday night at Free State.
“In the first half, we played a lot of just ‘kicking and running,’ and that’s more of a younger team or a team that’s under pressure to get a goal quickly,” FSHS midfielder Jessica Ferguson said. “And we didn’t really need to play like that.”
The Firebirds played more composed in the second half after taking the 1-0 halftime lead.
Ferguson scored in the 42nd minute, finishing off a cross from teammate Abbey Casady.
“She looked up, and we had eye contact. It was just a perfect ball laid into me,” Ferguson said. “I just had to put my foot out and tap it in.”
Barah believed that the second goal — even more than the first — took some off his players.
“We were able to connect a whole bunch of passes,” Barah said, “and get back to doing the things we’ve always practiced.”
Ferguson added her second goal in the 49th minute, knocking in a goal after Maren Kahler’s shot deflected off North’s goalkeeper Bridget Wray.
Kahler had the Firebirds’ next two goals, ricocheting one past Wray in the 50th minute before blasting a shot into the top of the net in the 54th minute off a pass from Chelsea Casady.
“That’s one thing that I love about our team is how we try to share the ball,” Barah said. “It doesn’t matter who hits the back of the net; we just need that ball in the back of the net.”
Abbey Casady added a goal in the 61st minute off a feed from Ferguson before Madeline Caywood ended the scoring with a penalty kick in the 72nd minute.
“We knew where their weak spots were,” Ferguson said, “and we were just able to exploit their weaker points.”
Free State won in tough weather conditions. Temperatures were in the 30s with winds roaring out of the north.
“We’re not the kind of team that’s not going to acknowledge the fact that it was cold, but I told them everybody, including the fans, were cold,” Barah said. “We just had to go out there and perform.”
Free State (3-3) will play Tuesday at Olathe Northwest.