Shelby Johnson and the Siloam Springs girls soccer team had seen enough zeros on the scoreboard.
Johnson, a junior forward, exploded for a career-high four goals and the Lady Panthers blitzed Van Buren 6-0 in a mercy-rule victory on Wednesday at Panther Stadium.
The win snapped a four-game losing streak for Siloam Springs, which had been shutout in all four of its previous games.
"We definitely needed that," Johnson said. "I know we're going to go into the rest of these games real strong. It helped us."
The game was originally supposed to be played on Tuesday, but cold weather pushed the match back to Wednesday. Since there was no game on Tuesday, first-year Lady Panthers coach Abby Ray spent a lot of practice time trying to keep the Lady Panthers' confidence up.
"I told the girls all day (Tuesday), if you score one, they will start to flow," Ray said. "Once you start scoring it's going to break that seal and you're just going to keep scoring. It's going to keep flowing. that's how it tends to work. I've seen it a lot with girls where you struggle to score and all of the sudden it just starts to flow."
The Lady Panthers got two goals from sophomore Madi Race in their season opening 2-0 win over Harrison on Feb. 25, but they were shutout at Bentonville West 4-0 on Feb. 26 and lost three straight to larger Oklahoma schools -- Mustang (4-0), Edmond North (2-0) and Edmond Santa Fe (1-0) -- in the Bentonville Spring Classic on March 1-2.
"The teams we've been playing are hard to score on," Ray said. "When we get into conference we're going to have more chances and more opportunities to score. They'll start to come. You just can't get into that panic mode where you're just, 'Oh gosh, we can't score.' You've got to have confidence."
Johnson showed the confidence on Wednesday against the Lady Pointers.
She scored in the 16th minute for Siloam Springs' only goal to take a 1-0 halftime lead. The play started in the midfield when Hailey Dorsey sent a ball into the 18-yard box. Race got to it and passed to an open Johnson for the score, which was her first of the season.
The 1-0 lead at halftime could have been larger had shots from both Laura Morales and Hadley Crenshaw gone in but both hit the crossbar.
"We had a talk in the halftime, and we're just like, 'We need to get it into the net.'"
The Lady Panthers came out and put the game away in the second half.
Morales, who had 25 goals last season, scored her first of the season with 34 minutes, 27 seconds remaining in the second half off a Jaleigh Harp assist.
Morales had another good look a few minutes later, but her shot was blocked by the Van Buren goalkeeper. Johnson though was there and put the rebound back in the net for a 3-0 lead with 28:03 left.
The Lady Panthers went up 4-0 after an impressive line of passes led to Johnson's fourth goal with the assist going to Race with 26:29 remaining.
Crenshaw scored her first goal of the season from the right wing with 25:48 remaining after securing a Morales pass.
But probably the most impressive goal of all came with 23:43 left in the contest. Morales took a touch around the 10-yard line and lofted a high pass to the middle of the field. Johnson met the pass for a header into the goal -- her fourth -- for a 6-0 lead.
"Yeah that one felt really good," Johnson said. "I was just sitting back, and I wasn't expecting it. But once I saw it in the air, I was like this is my time, I need to hit it, and I finished pretty well."
It was a play the Lady Panthers expect the athletic Johnson to make for them.
"Shelby's just the example in the weight room," Ray said. "Anytime we're lifting or push-ups or anything in the weight room, we're like 'Look at Shelby, she's doing it the right way.' She's just an athlete. ... Any sport would love to have her, but we get her here and she's doing well here. I was super happy for her tonight. She needed a goal."
The remaining time was cut in half via the sportsmanship rule and the Lady Panthers finished out their second shutout win of the season.
Siloam Springs returns to conference action at home at 7:15 p.m. Tuesday against Alma.Sports on 03/10/2019
Print Headline: Confidence builder