John Bruce, Contributor
CHILLICOTHE — Erin Callahan pulled off a special trick to celebrate her birthday.
A Hat Trick.
The junior forward scorched the net three times in Unioto’s 6-1 season-opening win over Hillsboro, Tuesday evening.
Just two and a half minutes into the game, Callahan got the scoring started on a breakaway goal that was set up by senior Kylee Bethel. Less than 10 minutes later, the birthday girl found the back of the net again on a shot from distance that just grazed the bottom of the crossbar to put the Shermans (1-0) ahead 2-0.
That’s when Mother Nature stepped in.
Shortly after Callahan’s second tally, the first of two weather delays took control of the evening. After the break, neither team could really get their footing for the rest of the half. However, with 12:04 left, Kylee Bethel would add to the Shermans’ lead, making it 3-0 at halftime.
After an abbreviated attempt to begin the second stanza was halted by more lightning (a delay of nearly 50 minutes this time), the Shermans were able to fully announce their presence with authority.
XiXi McKell and Bethel scored to extend the lead to 5-0 before Callahan finished off her special evening, tallying her third goal with a little less than nine minutes to play.
The story of the game, however, would not be complete if the outstanding overall team play was not addressed for the Tanks.
Seniors XiXi McKell, Bethel, and Sophia Garza dominated the midfield, calmly distributing the ball to outside wings Elle Pelletier and Autumn Stanger, constantly putting pressure on the Indians’ backline.
Hillsboro (0-2) didn’t get a shot off until the final 10 minutes of the game due to the outstanding calming presence of Jaidyn McKell and Abi Seals on the backline. Junior goalkeeper Sydney Free was untested for the majority of the night, but was still able to finish with four saves and impact the game with her ball skills at the goalkeeper position.
Hillsboro scored a goal of its own with just 10 seconds remaining in the match on a nice hustle play by Emma Ritze, giving the visitors something positive to take on the bus ride home.
Unioto will next be in action Saturday night when they travel to Bexley to battle the Lions (1-1) in a 7:15 start.
NOTES: Unioto finished last season with its second consecutive district championship and a 15-2-3 record … Unioto defeated Zane Trace 7-0 in a junior varsity contest.
37:30 — (U) Erin Callahan (Kylee Bethel)
29:45 — (U) Callahan (Kailey Doughty)
12:04 — (U) Bethel (Avery Miller)
27:04 — (U) XiXi McKell (Bethel)
23:37 — (U) Bethel (Autumn Stanger)
8:49 — (U) Callahan (Jaidyn McKell)
0:10 — (H) Emma Ritze (unassisted)
Shots — Unioto 21, Hillsboro 6
Shots on Goal — Unioto 12, Hillsboro 5
Saves — Unioto 4 (Free 4), Hillsboro 6 (Christina Page 4)
Fouls — Unioto 13, Hillsboro 8
Corner Kicks — Unioto 7, Hillsboro 1