DeMOTTE — Raelynn LaFrance notched a hat trick ,and Jami Patterson added a pair of tallies as Argos advanced to the Covenant Christian Soccer Sectional final with a 5-0 shutout of Rensselaer Central Thursday.
The Dragons had opening possession and five minutes passed before the ball entered Argos’ defensive half. Despite dominating play, the Dragons went 28 scoreless minutes against a packed-in Bomber defense.
“We expected to find the middle clogged, and the game plan was to attack wide,” Argos coach Jon Alcorn said. “We needed to be patient but not content. You quickly had the sense the game was going to be played on one end, and that can lull you asleep and set up counters.”
It was the Dragons who awakened first.
Allie Flower’s cross from the left hit an onrushing LaFrance for a finish that turned out to be the game-winner. The flood gates opened for a moment as in less than three minutes, LaFrance finished another pass from Sammie Hopkins and Patterson hit a solo shot to give the Dragons a 3-0 lead at the break.
Early in the second half, LaFrance, a junior attacking midfielder, charged hard to challenge a ball being picked up high in the penalty area by Bomber keeper Emily Hopkins. Hopkins made the grab, only to watch as her defender slammed the Argos player to the ground. A bit of confusion ensued as the center official acknowledged a foul waved by the assistant referee, but failed to signal the call. After a short conference, the center pointed to the penalty spot and LaFrance stepped up and hit the shot for her first career triple.
“The center official seemed to get lost for a bit, and the game was getting choppy,” said Alcorn. “He regrouped, though and threw some cards and got everyone settled down and back to playing soccer.”
Rensselaer players received a pair of yellows within 10 minutes for persistent fouling.
Patterson completed the scoring on a pass from LaFrance. LaFrance has 11 goals on the season, while Patterson has 18.
“Raelynn has really had a breakout season in terms of understanding the offense and the flow of the game,” Alcorn said. “In the sectional opener she didn’t score, but led us in energy and drew a great deal of defensive attention. So it was fitting for her to light it up tonight. It takes pressure off Jami. Jami can possess and pass, and other kids will step up. She’s in the top five of our career scorers now, but she doesn’t have to carry it all. Shelby Sanders has tallied six as a central defender, and we have a dozen kids who’ve scored. Katie Williams is our assist leader and there are five kids right behind her. I can play 19 different kids and feel we are going to get good stuff out of all of them. That is a luxury we haven’t had in a while.”
Patterson has 55 career goals behind Argos all-time scorer Kelsie Hollabaugh (101), Alyssa Bailey (79), Angie Dunlap (67) and Krista Null (56).
The Dragons, now 11-5-2, now look to defend their sectional championship as they advance to the final against the Boone Grove-Rochester winner on Saturday at 3 p.m. ET.