Throughout her entire high school career, Sarah Foulk’s ability to score goals has been unmatched.
If last Tuesday’s night game against Oak Hill is any indication, Eastbrook’s star senior striker is in line for another spectacular campaign.
After scoring 103 goals in the last two seasons, Foulk picked up right where she left off, finding twine five times as the Panthers overcame an early deficit to defeat the Golden Eagles 8-4 in their season opener.
Chloe McDaniel also filled the stat sheet, scoring twice, while Naomi Diller recorded the other tally for Eastbrook.
On the other side, Tegan Phillips was impressive for Oak Hill, notching two goals, while Carlee Biddle collected her first goal of the season early in the first half. Junior Kristen Travis also scored for Oak Hill late in the contest.
While Eastbrook ended up doubling Oak Hill on the scoreboard, it was the Golden Eagles that drew first blood.
In fact, it only took 21 seconds.
Moments after the opening kickoff, Oak Hill drove down the middle of the pitch, and after a scramble in front of the net, Biddle pushed one past Eastbrook goalkeeper Gabby Scott to give the Golden Eagles a 1-0 lead.
Quickly, however, Foulk took matters into her own hands.
With her impressive combination of ball skill, quickness, and strength, Foulk dribbled the ball through the entire Oak Hill defense, collecting her first tally just over three minutes later and tying the contest at one goal apiece.
“We tried to mark her, but she is very talented,” Oak Hill Head Coach Alex Kenworthy said. “We just weren’t successful enough.”
After that, Eastbrook dominated possession for the rest of the first half.
“We got off to a slow start, but we made some adjustments,” Eastbrook assistant coach Bobby Foulk said. “We moved the outside defenders up and played our defense more on the offensive end. We kept the ball down on their end most of the time.”
With her scoring ability and finishing touch, Foulk is always the focal point of opposing team’s gameplans, but with players like McDaniel and Diller also on the pitch, defenses are forced to cover them as well.
Foulk used that to her advantage throughout the evening.
“We assumed I was going to be marked, but it helped because the other girls knew where to go if I was coming in, and it opened up [the field] a lot,” Foulk said. “If they are marking me, it’s hard to cover Naomi or Chloe as they go to the middle, so the defense has to shift over on to them, and that leaves it open for me. It was really the other girls shifting correctly.”
With Eastbrook consistently applying pressure on Oak Hill’s end of the pitch, Foulk was able to capitalize for the second time at the halfway mark of the first half, helping the Panthers to regain the advantage at 2-1.
While the Golden Eagles only had two shots on net in the opening 40 minutes, both resulted in goals. A short time after Foulk’s second tally, Phillips raced past the Eastbrook defense on the right side of the field, tying the contest back up on a well-placed shot that found the bottom left corner of the net.
The Panther, however, quickly regained the momentum 10 minutes later, scoring three goals in a span of 2:43.
Foulk capped off her first hat trick of the season at the 6:13 mark. Fifty seconds after that, Foulk recorded her first assist, setting up McDaniel for her first of the evening. Diller capped off the scoring in the first half with under four minutes to go, sending the Panthers into halftime with a 5-2 advantage.
Eastbrook’s offense continued to hum in the second half. McDaniel scored 95 seconds in to make it 6-2, and Foulk added two more tallies in the final 40 minutes.
While they would not get any closer than four goals the rest of the way, the Golden Eagles were much improved in the second half. After collecting just two shots in the first half, Oak Hill recorded eight in the second half, generating more scoring chances and putting more pressure on Eastbrook’s rebuilding defense. In the final 14:38, Oak Hill scored twice.
“My girls stayed positive,” Kenworthy said. “They stayed together. Nobody was hounding one another. I’m perfectly content.”
Despite giving up a few late goals, Eastbrook’s newly constructed back line was solid throughout the evening. With a little more seasoning and experience, Foulk believes that the group will only improve as the season progresses.
“Three of the four are new starters on defense,” Bobby Foulk said. “It’s going to take some time for them to gel. They got tested today, which was good, because they learned what they were made of. They made some adjustments. For most of the game, I feel they did a good job of being solid in the back. I think they are going to be good this year.”
Eastbrook led in the shot department, 19-10, which included a 14-2 advantage in the first half and a 12-9 advantage in shots on goal overall. Scott finished the evening with three saves to collect her first victory of the season.