Soccer players don’t often take corner kicks with the intention of scoring. Usually, the objective is to put a ball into the penalty area so a teammate can redirect the ball toward the goal.
Kaitlyn Shanks has the confidence, and the ability, to think a little differently.
The Janesville Craig senior curled a corner kick from the left flag into the far side of the goal just four minutes into Tuesday’s season opener—part of a two-goal night for the midfielder—to open the scoring, and the Cougars breezed to a 6-0 nonconference win over the Evansville Blue Devils.
“I’d done it before a few times,” Shanks said of her rare “Olimpico” goal. “I wasn’t even thinking about it. It just hit off my right foot and then ... phew.”
Shanks’ highlight was the first of many for Craig (1-0-0), which controlled the game and finished with 26 shots on goal.
“She’s always got a ball at her feet, and she’s always practicing that sort of thing,” Craig coach Bill McCabe said. “Her corner kicks were spot on.”
Sophomore Hallie King scored three goals, making an immediate impact in her Craig debut after scoring 27 goals for Janesville Parker last season.
None were better than her first, which doubled Craig’s lead.
King cut left across the penalty area before sending a left-footed shot into the corner of the net for a 2-0 advantage in the 31st minute.
“That was really well played,” McCabe said. “She picked up her head, she picked out her target and nailed it. It was so pretty to see.”
King finished a centering pass from Sydney Goicochea in the 49th minute and completed her hat trick three minutes later after weaving through several defenders. King nearly had a fourth goal, but her strong header zipped just over the crossbar in the 82nd.
“We wanted to start the season out well so we’d have a good tone going forward,” Shanks said. “I think we accomplished that. They barely had it in our half of the field.”
Goicochea, a sophomore, netted her first career goal in the 63rd.
Evansville (0-1-0) didn’t generate many chances offensively. The Blue Devils were held without a shot on goal and didn’t take their first corner kick until the 88th minute.
“This was a great team to play against to show us where we need to improve,” Evansville first-year coach Brandon Jerstad said. “They pushed each other even though the scoreline wasn’t necessarily what we wanted.”
The Blue Devils won the Rock Valley Conference tournament and totaled 16 wins in 2017, powered by a strong senior class. Graduation hit the team hard, most notably with the loss of conference player of the year Anna Eager (33 goals).
Evansville opens its conference slate Monday at home against Clinton.
Craig travels to Waukesha South on Thursday in the second of four nonconference games to begin the season. The Cougars begin Big Eight Conference play April 17 against Madison La Follette.
CRAIG 6, EVANSVILLE 0
Janesville Craig 3 3—6
Evansville 0 0—0
C—Kaitlyn Shanks, 4:02. C—Hallie King, 30:31. C—Shanks (Greta Hanthorn), 32:14.
C—King (Sydney Goicochea), 48:34. C—King (Sarah Gregg), 51:54. C—Goicochea, 62:18.
Saves—Makayla Elwood (E) 20, Maia Rowekamp (C) 0.