Milton’s hat trick leads Herscher in victory
HERSCHER — Wilmington goalie Rachel Wandless did everything she could to give the Wildcats a chance Thursday night.
The freshman finished the game with a staggering 21 saves, but Herscher’s offense was too overpowering, as it launched more than 30 shots at Wandless and moved past the Wildcats (1-9) with a 7-0 victory.
“Soccer is an interesting game,” Herscher coach Chris Longtin said. “One of our goals is to not let any opponent dictate what we do and how we operate, but (Wilmington) kind of did. They packed the box a little bit, and we had a hard time working around. Overall, we played OK. There’s still a few things we have to fix, though.”
According to Longtin, Jillian Milton had been in a slight slump during the past number of games. However, Thursday was her time to shine.
She got the ball rolling for Herscher (8-4-1) at the 26:45 mark, when she connected on a header off an assist from Megan Burns, putting the Tigers ahead 1-0.
The junior forward notched her second goal of the game with 15:37 left in the second half as she struck with her left foot from the right side of the box, bending the ball to the far side and into the bottom left corner.
Just five minutes later, she completed the hat trick, taking a couple of dribbles into the middle of the field and finding the back of the net over Wandless’ outstretched arms.
“As she came off the field following the third goal, she looked at me and said, ‘I finally redeemed myself,’” Longtin said with a smile. “It was inevitable that she would snap out of it, though; she’s a very patient and smart player. She seemed really relaxed on the last goal, and she hit it just like she does at practice. To see her get a hat trick is really great for her because she’s put in so much work.”
World Cup Walkout
The real story of the game happened before the game even started.
Herscher invited the County West soccer program as its special guests, which participated in the team’s walkout. Each player walked onto the field in between both Herscher and Wilmington players.
“I reached out to (Wilmington) coach (David) Blackburn, and he understood what we’re trying to do because he’s trying to grow his program also,” Longtin said. “Most of the girls on the team came through the County West program years ago, and I think it was great for all the little girls in the county program now to see that.”
Longtin hopes to make having the youth program walking with the high school team an annual thing as a way to keep youngsters interested in soccer as they continue to grow up and enter high school in the coming years.
“This was about the kids and trying to get more girls to play soccer and continue playing,” Longtin said. “We ran our first ever indoor camp over the winter, and it was a huge success. Many of the girls played and refereed games, and I’d like them to stick with it.”
After Milton’s goals, Megan Burns notched a goal and an assist.
Mattie Brown, Juila Perez and Cholee Shuldt each scored a goal, and Kylie Salm had an assist.
Herscher hosts Momence today.
Wilmington travels to Plano on Tuesday.