FARMINGTON – Relentless offensive pressure was established from the outset Saturday as the Mineral Area women’s soccer team overpowered another Region 16 opponent.
Freshman forward Leah Buerck scored two goals, and the Cardinals outshot East Central 24-8 overall while surging to a 4-0 victory at Engler Park.
Ella Gant extended her scoring streak to five consecutive matches, and Theresa Butscher notched her second shutout as keeper with three saves.
Mineral Area (4-1, 3-1) registered the lone win of its inaugural season against the Falcons, and widened the gap between the teams decisively in the rematch.
Buerck rifled a 20-yard shot past keeper Gabby Mattli in the seventh minute after Kayleigh Slinkard got separation from a defender along the left side and sent a crossing feed.
Slinkard, who netted the first hat trick in program history to beat East Central last April, made it 2-0 with her third goal of the season on an unassisted run that followed a failed clearing attempt.
East Central (1-5, 0-2) put together is most dangerous chances near the midway mark of the first half, but ultimately suffered a third consecutive defeat.
Ashleigh Cottner neatly broke up a run by Buerck that stemmed from an excellent outlet pass by defender Emma Winkler to Gant.
Falcons forward Abby Layton shot high from about 23 yards on the counter attack, and Mineral Area outside back Kadelia Wilkins prevented a goal while protecting Butscher at the back post in the 24th minute.
MAC midfielder Emily Kellum was involved in a couple of scoring chances while pushing through the middle after winning possession.
Her pass in the 65th minute connected on the right side to Mallory Mathes, whose ensuing cross was perfectly struck on a bounce by Gant at the edge of the box for her seventh tally of the season.
That sequence capped the scoring about five minutes after Buerck made it 3-0 with her seventh to temporarily assume the team lead.
Gant earned the assist – her third of this season to equal Mathes – on a second connecting pass after Winkler located her with a strong kick toward midfield.
Callie Clarke-Smith joined Winkler and outside backs Wilkins and Loren Kinkead in maintaining a mostly quiet box in front of Butscher until the staring back four were pulled.
East Central could only generate a weak shot on a quick passing play between Zoe Gaszak and Gwen Lottman early in the second half. A late 30-yard drive by Rebekah Lewis also missed the mark.
The Cardinals almost added some insurance in the 77th minute on a pinpoint pass from Alexys Cook to a streaking Gracie Schmitt, but defender Samantha Starling hustled back to steal.
Slinkard narrowly missed a second tally just prior to intermission when her rising shot caught the left post on a partial breakaway as the Falcons were late to retreat.
MAC sophomore Abby Holmes outworked an opposing defender to the rebound, but the ball slightly skipped just as she shot inches wide in a bid for her first collegiate goal.
Mika Shipman and Kamryn Pehle made their second appearances among 18 players to see action for the Cardinals, who received votes for the NJCAA Division II rankings last week.
Mineral Area is currently idle until facing St. Louis on Sept. 22 after a scheduled match this Wednesday against John Wood was canceled.