POCATELLO – Something is new about Highland.
The Rams are scoring a lot of goals, like they did Saturday in a 7-1 home win against Pocatello.
Highland (7-3, 1-1 5A District 5-6) has scored at least five goals six times this season — double its total from last year. The Rams’ 4.7 goals per match are 2.3 more than last season.
It is easy to see why as the Rams have more off-ball movement and make decisive moves with the ball. Often that meant making one extra pass to get a satisfactory look on goal Saturday.
“Our thing is, we have to keep the pace of the game going quick. We call it speed of play. Just quick, quick, quick little passes,” Rams senior midfielder Mallori Vawdrey said. “We’re finding that composure on the ball and having speed of play and passing to feet, and we’re just building from here.”
Another offensive dimension revealed against Poky was Highland's set pieces, kickstarted by Vawdrey, who played a part in three goals.
To help put Highland ahead 4-1 at halftime, Vawdrey placed a 25-yard free kick into the back of the net and directed a corner kick into dangerous territory for Pocatello, which had an own goal after Maysi Thompson one-timed the ball at the defense. To complete Vawdrey’s day, she lobbed the ball to the front-center of the goal on another corner kick, and junior forward Aubrey Hymas headed it in to put the Rams ahead 6-1.
“She’s been practicing and working really hard on them,” Hymas said of Vawdrey’s kicks on set pieces. “She’s improved really well. We actually worked on them yesterday at practice, and we called on her today to do them, so she did it.”
Hymas, a three-year starter, scored the final goal of the game, running across the box before a one-touch shot into goal off a pass with three defenders surrounding her.
Kylee Bennett was Highland’s other multi-goal scorer, accounting for two in the first half, including a 20-yarder to the opposite corner of the net.
Pocatello (3-2-1, 3-1-1 4A District 4-5) scored the first goal of the game in the first 20 minutes of the first half on a Gabby Madrid penalty kick, but the Indians struggled to create scoring opportunities thereafter. Until Saturday, the Indians were succeeding with defense, holding their first five opponents under four goals and allowing 1.6 goals per game.
But Pocatello couldn’t halt the Rams’ offensive stampede. Indians coach Eric Davis said fatigue cost Pocatello against a team with a deeper bench. Fortunately, the nonconference loss does not affect the Indians’ season goal, which is to clinch a state tournament bid.
“They have the ability, and they’ve really shown that to themselves,” Davis said. “They need to play a little bit better against Century, and we’ve got Twin Falls we’ve got to worry about.”
Pocatello plays Tuesday at Minico, while Highland plays Tuesday at Rigby.