COLUMBIA — Columbia College soccer head coach John Klein has said all year that once his women's team starts scoring goals, they're going to be tough to beat.
Based on their Friday night performance, it appears that the Cougars have found their offense. Columbia College extended its winning streak to four games with an 8-0 victory over Harris-Stowe State Friday evening at R. Marvin Owens Stadium.
The Cougars have outscored their opponents 22-1 over their past four matches, including a 9-0 victory over Dordt College on Oct. 6, and Friday evening's 8-0 rout. After a 2-6 start to the season, the Cougars are now 7-7 and 5-1 in American Midwest Conference play.
Klein identified two players in particular who have stood out offensively. Junior midfielder Stephanie Hale has scored nine goals on the season, including three in the past four games.
She is second on the team in scoring to freshman midfielder Kelly Ross, who has 10 goals. Ross has been in good form of late, tallying nine goals in the last four games, including two hat tricks, one against Dordt, and this recent one against Harris-Stowe.
"Kelly's power and speed is exceptional, she is a big presence in front of the goal," Klein said.
Ross attributes her recent success to patience and confidence in her play. However, she was also quick to credit her teammates.
"We've figured out how to play together and how we all fit," Ross said. "I have to have their support out there. Without them there's no scoring."
The Cougars got off the mark early against Harris-Stowe, scoring seven times in the first half, including Ross' hat trick, two from Hale, and two from junior defender Rylee Bruhn. The Cougars dominated possession, rarely allowing the Hornets any time on the ball in the Columbia College half. The Cougars also outshot Harris-Stowe 35-0 on the game.
Coach Klein used the Cougars' 7-0 first-half lead as an opportunity to try certain players in unfamiliar positions. Most notably, junior Amber Petty, who started the game as goalkeeper, moved to forward for the last 45 minutes and even added the Cougars' only second half goal in the 85th minute.
"I had a handball early on, I had to remember I wasn't in goal anymore," Petty said. "We were a little short on numbers, so I was glad to get a chance to score."
Klein was pleased to see some of his players excelling in different positions and is especially satisfied with the way that his team has come together recently as they enter the final few weeks of the season.
"We've set ourselves up for a chance at a conference title in our first year," Klein said. "I'm proud of what we've done so far."
The Columbia College women next take the field against Stephens College at 4:30 p.m. Oct. 16 at Cosmopolitan Park.