PARK HILLS – The Mineral Area women’s soccer team capped its opening weekend of the season with the challenge of facing a clear NJCAA Division II title contender.
Third-ranked Jones College passed crisply and calmly in traffic, kept most possession far from its own net, and struck from long range during a complete effort on Sunday.
Gemma Whitchurch was physically dominant with three goals and two assists, and the Bobcats limited the Cardinals to only two shot attempts in a 5-0 road shutout.
Avery Saulter and Abby Sheriff also scored for Jones (3-0), which produced 22 shots after beginning the holiday weekend with a 4-1 victory at SW Illinois on Saturday.
The visitors from Mississippi wasted no time securing a lead, then practically cut off one-third of the pitch as Mineral Area was often compelled to hold its forwards back.
Whitchurch struck with a perfect sinking laser under the crossbar from about 35 yards during the third minute after MAC defender Emilia Wunderlich blocked a previous shot.
Starting Cardinals keeper Marle Tiesler made the best of her four saves in defeat with a diving lunge left against a streaking Sheriff, but Saulter would make it 2-0 in the 13th minute.
Tiesler tried to emerge from the box to disrupt a through ball from Whitchurch, but Saulter maintained her balance amid contact and easily tapped in the loose ball.
The Bobcats carried a 3-0 advantage into the intermission when Saulter sent a short pass to Whitchurch, who absorbed a bump from center back Anna Gremaud and raced in for her second tally.
Mineral Area (0-2) encountered its best scoring chance on a giveaway in the 28th minute, but a rolling shot by Iesha Rollins was scooped by winning goalie Jona Hennings for her lone save.
The Cardinals committed 10 fouls compared to five by its opponents, and managed to earn three corner kicks. A long free kick from Rylee Mirth in the first half was caught by Hennings while heading wide.
The defense from Jones was consistently sound. Even when Colleen Flanagan and Rollins made clean steals for MAC near midfield, they were promptly met and thwarted by double teams.
Whitchurch sealed her hat trick by guiding a header into the top left corner on an excellent cross from Sherriff, who later planted a 30-yard rocket into the same spot to increase the 4-0 cushion.
Gremaud slid to break up another dangerous ball in the second half, but was later called for a hard foul against an attacking Saulter. MAC midfielder Lydia Pascoe was assessed the lone yellow of the match.
Caroline Wilson released four shots, and substitute keeper Scarlette Roberts finished off the combined shutout for Jones over the last 45 minutes.
North County graduate Savannah Hasemeier created sideline throws on a couple of solid dribbling runs off the bench, and Rosalie Coughlin got a late MAC corner with a takeaway and deep push.
The Bobcats sought another goal off a long free kick, but backup keeper Nevaeh Larkins leaped to corral the ball before an attacker could arrive.
Mineral Area will host East Central in the Region 16 opener on Wednesday.
Copiah-Lincoln 4, Mineral Area 1
PARK HILLS – Charlie Cooper netted an unanswered hat trick, and had an assist as 15th-ranked Copiah-Lincoln prevailed 4-1 over Mineral Area on Saturday.
Unity Cutrer also scored, and Alisa Johnson chipped in two assists as Copiah-Lincoln weathered the physical toll of 14 Mineral Area fouls.
Savannah Hasemeier tied the match at 1-1 for the Cardinals in the 32nd minute on a pass from defender Tash Goodwin.
Cooper countered six minutes later, resulting in a 2-1 halftime lead, then buried a penalty kick and third goals in the second half to seal the victory.
Mineral Area (0-1) amassed a 12-10 advantage in shots and 6-4 edge in corner kicks despite dropping its season opener. Thea Draganova allowed two goals in five shots faced.