SALEM — Monmouth Academy girls soccer coach Gary Trafton spent the preseason worrying where the team’s goals would come from after losing the program’s single-season goal-scoring leader from last year’s side to graduation.
Saturday’s convincing 7-1 Mountain Valley Conference win over Mt. Abram may have served to alleviate Trafton’s concerns. Junior Audrey Fletcher scored four times in the victory, while sophomore Alicen Burnham scored three times as the Mustangs won their fifth straight game.
“I was pleased,” said Trafton, whose team improved to 6-1-0. “In practice, we’ve really worked on pushing it out (into the attack). We wanted to make quick passes and get out there.”
Burnham, whose primary role a year ago was to simply provide a little secondary scoring, played perhaps the most complete game of her career against the Roadrunners. In addition to the hat trick, she also assisted on two of Fletcher’s goals.
“I think it is (being a sophomore now),” Burnham said of her comfort level. “There was a lot of pressure last year, but this year we are a totally different group. We work super-well together, passing and shooting-wise. We know where each other is going to be.”
“Last year, it was just about trying to figure out your place for her. It was the same way for me my freshman year, too,” Fletcher said. “I think this year she’s found it. She’s figured out what she can and can’t do, and maybe last year she was trying to do too much.”
While Monmouth answered some questions about itself win the victory, Mt. Abram (6-3-0) was left with plenty of its own.
The Roadrunners raced out of the gates by going a perfect 6-for-6 to begin the season but have now lost three straight to drop out of the top four in the Class C South regional standings.
Junior target player Jade Davis seemed to have Mt. Abram on the right track with her goal in the 12th minute to even the score at 1-1 — answering a seventh-minute strike from Burnham — but there was little steam from the Roadrunners after the equalizer.
“I think we’re still trying to find it,” Mt. Abram co-coach John Chase said. “We were scoring a lot more goals in the first six, but we’re struggling right now. I don’t know what it is, but we’ll go back to practice and try to figure it out.”
Mt. Abram scored 22 goals in its first six games while allowing only four, a run which included a win over Class B South leader Oak Hill. Since that undefeated start, the Roadrunners have been outscored 14-4.
“We seemed a little more cohesive (early in the year),” Chase said. “The passing was a little bit better. I don’t know if maybe we’ve gotten complacent or something.”
Davis was mostly contained throughout the festivities by Monmouth junior right back Alexis Trott, who was able to physically match Davis stride for stride across all 80 minutes.
Fletcher scored twice before the first 40 minutes were through, tallying the eventual game-winner in the 27th minute when she was allowed to dribble along the end line before cutting to goal and finishing the play off herself. Eight minutes later, her free kick from 25 yards slipped through the hands of Mt. Abram keeper Emily Kidd (12 saves).
The attacker added goals in the 65th and 71st minutes, both set up by Burnham.
Burnham got her hat trick with key second-half goals, one in the 51st minute and another in the 63rd, to stake the Mustangs out to a 5-1 lead.
It was a clinical display from a Monmouth side which hadn’t seen game action in nine days.
“We’ve still got to balance it out with the scoring,” Trafton said. “Our passing was very good today. I was happy with that.”