Chelsea girls mercy-rule Hillcrest to advance

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor 

CHELSEA – When you’ve lost just two times in 21 games and are the No. 1 team in your classification, expectations are high heading into the playoffs, and for the Chelsea Hornets girls soccer team, they lived up to the hype in a 10-0 mercy-rule win over Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa on Friday, April 26, to open the 2019 postseason.

The Hornets scored nine first-half goals to take control of the game before closing out the mercy-rule victory midway through the second period to advance to round two of the playoffs.

Throughout the 2019 season, Chelsea has been a solid team because of the speed and scoring talent on the field, and the Hornets flashed that early in this one.

In the first 20 minutes, they jumped out to a 5-0 lead behind four goals from none other than Kailey Littleford, who has lit up the scoring column all season, as well as one goal from Carson Reeves.

Chelsea was finding open passing lanes and not much resistance defensively as player-after-player took turn pushing the ball upfield.

With 16:22 remaining in the opening period, sophomore Haley Duca broke loose and found a great scoring opportunity, which she capitalized on to put the Hornets up 6-0.

It took less than a minute for Claire Guillen to add her first goal of the game thanks to a lot of commotion in the goalie box before she eventually found a gap to fire a shot into the back of the net to put Chelsea on top 7-0.

The Hornets continued to press despite the big lead and found several more great looks over the next nine minutes, including a shot that hit the cross bar from Lexie Duca, but it was 10 minutes later that Emily Pulmano added Chelsea’s eighth goal of the game.

She found some room and powered her way into the left side of the box where she fired a shot to the far right side of the goal to put the Hornets on top 8-0.

Then, just a few seconds later, Haley Duca added her second goal of the half on a solid shot that the keeper couldn’t come up with.

One goal away from the mercy rule, Chelsea got the opportunity to play several young players in the second half and took advantage.

Hillcrest played much better defensively, and even got a couple of breakaways offensively, but the Patriots never truly threatened to score.

The Hornets continued to put shots on goal, but they were coming from much further away than in the first half.

That changed, however, when Maddie Larkin was able to find herself on the right end of a scrum inside the goalie box near the left side of the net. Eventually she emerged out of the pack with the ball and quickly took advantage of the opening by firing the final goal of the night into the back of the net for the 10-0 victory.

It not only closed out the win for Chelsea, but marked Larkin’s first goal of her young career as a freshman with the Hornets.

The Hornets will now get No. 9 Northridge in the second round of the playoffs, which is scheduled for Tuesday, April 30 at 5 p.m.