ZIONSVILLE – The Zionsville Lady Eagles couldn’t have asked for a much better week.
After topping Westfield 4-2 on Wednesday, the Eagles topped Harrison 4-0 on Friday night in their opening game of the Zionsville Invite.
Saturday afternoon, they continued their strong play, topping Class 2A No. 7 and two-time defending Class 1A state champion Evansville Mater Dei 3-0 for the team’s fourth-straight win.
“I thought we had an excellent game Friday night against Harrison and we wanted to keep that intensity today,” Zionsville head coach Ramon Aguillon said. “It is sometimes easy to have a let down, especially playing back-to-back, and Mater Dei is a great program. For us to come out and still do what we needed to in order to win, that’s encouraging.”
After dropping to 1-2 on the season with a loss to Fishers, the Eagles have out-scored opponents 13-2 in the last four games with three shutouts.
The Eagles have scored 18 goals in seven games, which is just six fewer than they had in 17 games a season ago.
The first goal Saturday came using one of the biggest strengths the Eagles have as an offense – their speed.
Sophomore Abbey Iler blew past her defender on the right side and made a perfect far-post cross to Lizzie Chlystun, who buried it in the back of the net to give the Eagles a 1-0 lead with 29:26 left in the first half.
It was the fourth goal of the season for Chlystun and a team-best fourth assist of the year for Iler.
“We want to continue to build on that speed, especially with Abbey and Lizzie on the outside,” Aguillon said. “Abbey is our leading assist person, and she does a great job crossing the ball in dangerous areas and Lizzie did a great job of making sure she got to the far post. We want to utilize that speed and our ability to take people on 1-v-1 on the outside, and we are doing a good job of that.”
Mater Dei had some good chances to tie the game in the first half, hitting the crossbar with 26 left in the half.
Other balls in dangerous areas were cleared by Zionsville center backs Sophie Brown and Lily Robinson, keeping it a 1-0 game at the half.
The Eagles then doubled the lead just two minutes into the second half, when Madison Barrientos’ corner kick was knocked in by Sydney Calisto to make it 2-0.
It was the second-straight game the Eagles scored off a corner kick.
“In soccer, especially at our level, there are a lot of opportunities to score on set pieces,” Aguillon said. “That’s where we have to advantage of our chances. We got one yesterday, Sydney got one today and we did good of crashing the box and being more aggressive. Scoring right there in the second half, it was a game changer.”
The Eagles finished the game off with 13 minutes to go when Sadie Graham scored for the fifth-straight game to make it 3-0.
Graham has seven goals already this season.
“I knew Sadie was going to get a step up this year and that she had the ability, but I didn’t know until the season started how much she improved,” Aguillon said. “She has seven goals already and we haven’t had a double-digit scorer in a long time. She is on the score sheet every game, and that was a nice to get that third one. We are challenging her to score in every game, and is really taking that challenge to heart.”
The Eagles are more than halfway through a tough stretch in which they played five games in eight days.
They finish the stretch at North Central on Monday and at Franklin Central Wednesday.
Aguillon said the Eagles want to keep this streak going into the final stretch of the year, where they finish the season with seven-straight games against ranked teams.
“We knew the schedule gets really difficult in the next few weeks,” Aguillon said. “Monday will be a challenge, and I want to see the girls fight through that. I think if we can get through the next few games we will have some momentum and continue to do great.”