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Girls soccer: Bulldogs shut out Chariton

OTTUMWA — At a certain point, Mia Garza-Trejo had to take matters into her own hands.

Or, perhaps more appropriately, her own feet.

While the all-time leading scorer in the history of the Ottumwa High School girls soccer program spent most of Thursday's match against Chariton looking to find her teammates, there came a point when Garza-Trejo had to go after the net herself. That moment came just over 26 minutes into the match when a goal kick by Chariton goalie Natalie Shore left the ball right at the feet of Ottumwa's top goal scorer.

Garza-Trejo found an opening and took full advantage, driving past three Charger defenders before sending the only goal of the first half into the back of the net. Three more goals in the second half, all off strikes by Garza-Trejo, clinched a 4-0 win for the Bulldogs over the Chargers moving Ottumwa within two wins of setting a new program record for single-season victories.

"Honestly, I was trying to find a teammate once I got the ball. I just couldn't," Garza-Trejo said. "That's when I decided to take on all three of them. Luckily, I somehow got the goal. I just have to get comfortable with the ball and comfortable with what I'm going to do with the ball the second I get it."

Garza-Trejo brought her team-leading total of goals scored this season up to 13, including nine alone this week following a five-goal effort against Lamoni in Ottumwa's 10-0 win on Monday at Schafer Stadium. Garza-Trejo could not add to her team-leading total of six assists, but not for a lack of trying setting up seven Bulldog teammates to take 15 shots throughout the course of Thursday's match with the Chargers.

"What helped Mia out a lot is that she was getting rid of the ball so quickly in the midfield. Our wings and our forwards were getting it right back to her, which is what we want. We want that give-and-go within our offense," Ottumwa head girls soccer coach Matthew Erlandson said. "We know that Mia is going to be running and she's going to be open. We just have to get it to her feet. We did a nice job of that."

Ottumwa came into Thursday somewhat short-handed in search of their sixth win in the past seven matches. Among those missing in action were Ilana Vasconez, Ottumwa's second-leading goal scorer, and freshman goal keeper Blythe Schmidt.

"We had some girls that we just found out about in the past two days that we found out were going to be out due to injury or illness," Erlandson said. "We had to make some adjustments. The girls did well."

Garza-Trejo also enjoyed the opportunity to get new teammates involved in Thursday's match.

"There were teammates out there that I connected with that I might not be able to play with as often," Garza-Trejo said. "Knowing what I was going to do with the ball the second I got it allowed me to be aggressive and confident."

Chariton's tenacious defense kept Ottumwa from being able to explode offensively just three days after producing 39 shots and a season-high 10 goals against Lamoni. The Bulldogs were limited to just 10 shots in the first half on Thursday, holding on to a slim one-goal lead heading into the second half.

That lead, however, quickly doubled thanks to the explosiveness of Garza-Trejo. After getting the ball on a pass following the opening kickoff of the second half, the Ottumwa senior dribbled past the Chariton defense and scored her second goal of the match. Limited to just one shot by the Bulldogs in the first half, the Chargers suddenly faced a daunting two-goal deficit.

"I thought we set a record earlier this season scoring 24 seconds into a match. We topped that scoring in just 20 seconds," Erlandson said. "It happened quickly. It took just a couple of passes and, all of a sudden, Mia had the ball right in front of the net."

Chariton could only muster two shots on goal in the second half, including a wide miss off a corner kick and a wide shot on a free kick by Maddison Howell midway through the second half. The Bulldogs dominated play down the stretch with 15 shots against the Chargers (2-7) including goals by Garza-Trejo off assists from Haley Pao and Samia Argueta in the final 18 minutes.

"You can only contain Mia for so long," Erlandson said. "We clearly dominated in the second half keeping the ball, keeping possession and continuing to attack. We can't just have these 1-0 or 2-0 matches. We need to start putting teams away. We did a good job of that."

Ottumwa is back on the pitch next week at Fairfield on Tuesday afternoon. The battle of area teams will kick off at the Dexter Soccer Complex starting at 4:30 p.m.