Southwestern High School senior Alexas Walden scored every way imaginable to earn her hat trick en route to the Lady Warriors' 4-0 win over Pulaski County High School on Tuesday at the Plains.
Walden scored off a free kick, a penalty kick and a crashing-rebound shot to tally three of Southwestern's four goals on the night. The Lady Warriors completed the two-game shutout sweep over their county rivals in the win.
"Coach (Nick Stringer) gave me the opportunity to take those kicks so I took advantage of them," Walden stated. "We always try to get our energy level up for a cross-town rivalry game. We were a little down in the first half but we got our energy up for the second half."
In the 31st minute, Walden accounted for the only score in the opening half when she scored off a 25-yard free kick above the right corner of the penalty box. Walden's first goal found the upper most right corner of the goal, which made it impossible for Pulaski keeper Audrey Jasper to defend.
"Alexas (Walden) has this game circled every year, as they all do," Southwestern girls soccer coach Nick Stringer stated. "I watched her in warm-ups and she was drilling free kicks. We usually have another player take free kicks, but Alexas was feeling it tonight and I told to just go for it. She took a beautiful free kick and I am glad we were here to get it on video."
In the 57th minute, Southwestern junior Gabbie Rowe worked her way from the left of the 18-yard box to the center for the score on frame to put the Lady Warriors up 2-0.
Four minutes later, Walden scored her second goal of the game off a penalty kick that found the left high part of the net.
In the 67th minute, sophomore Ella Vaught hit a booming free kick from midfield that had to be defended by Pulaski keeper Audrey Jasper. The ball came off Jasper's hands as Walden crashed the goal. Walden dribbled the ball past Jasper for a wide open net at close range.
"I saw it open and I just kind of went for it," Walden exclaimed.
Walden slammed the ball hard into the center of the net for her hat trick.
"I was glad Alexas slammed that last one home for the hat trick," Stringer said with a smile. "I think that is really going to get her going for the (post-season) tournament."
The Lady Warriors controlled the tempo of the match and outshot the visiting Lady Maroons by a count of 17 to 4.
"Pulaski played a little different than we thought they would and they played a little reserved," Stringer stated. "It took us a little bit to work through that and they kept a lot of numbers behind the ball. Pulaski did a good job of keeping them behind the ball, and it took us a while to figure it out."
"When we scored our second goal, they had to come out of it a little bit and that opened it up for us to get a couple more," Stringer added.
Southwestern (8-2-3) will travel to Wayne County on Thursday, Sept. 26, while Pulaski County (9-6-1) will travel to Lincoln County on Thursday, Sept. 26.
STEVE CORNELIUS is the CJ Sports Editor and can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @CJSportseditor.