Without Cleo Mills, Mt. Vernon’s explosive offense will cause problems, but with the sophomore forward, who played in just 11 games last season, the Marauders are nearly unstoppable.
Returning its top four goal scorers from a season ago, including Mills, Mt. Vernon wasted little time finding the net Tuesday against Mississinewa.
After an early goal from senior Briahna Angelopulos, Mills added two of her own in the first half en route to a 14-1 win.
The Marauders (1-0), who finished 12-7-1 last season, used 10 goals from eight different players in the opening half to take a commanding lead and never looked back.
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“Things opened up for (Mills) because she has some breakaway capabilities,” Mt. Vernon head coach Steve Williams said. “She can get behind the defense. It is going to be really big for us.
“We really connect the dots well. When they are healthy, it’s scary.”
The Indians, who were 1-8-1 last season, had problems even reaching the opposite end of the field. Mt. Vernon sophomore goalkeeper Jaici Wright made a solid debut in her first varsity start, though, and was replaced in the second by freshman Angelina Metcalf.
“We are just going to split their time until we figure it out,” Williams said.
Mills, despite missing a chunk of the 2015 season, still managed to score 13 goals last season. She also added three assists.
“It feels so good, I am really excited (to be back),” Mills said. “Having an outside perspective last season really helped me.”
Junior Morgan Scruggs, who led the team with 20 goals last season, added her first goal of the season with 20 minutes left until halftime to give the Marauders a 6-0 lead. She also added an assist in the first half and another goal in the second half.
Sophomore Lexi Hardie, who was the team leader in assists with 16 in 2015, followed suit just just over 10 minutes later for a 7-0 advantage.
Earlier in the half, junior Nicole Ratts added the team’s third goal from the 18-yard line with 36:13 left on the clock. After continuous pressure on the Mississinewa keeper, junior Alaina Nelson made it 4-0 with a deep shot around 10 yards outside of the box. She also scored just before half.
Mills, Nelson, Scruggs and Hardie combined for 55 goals last season for Mt. Vernon, which scored 80 on the year.
Freshman Dakota Hunziker added a goal in her first varsity game, as well, as Williams let his bench play towards the end of the first half — and most of the second.
Mt. Vernon returns to action 11:30 a.m. Saturday at Franklin Community. The Marauders will open Hoosier Heritage Conference play Monday at Greenfield-Central.
Mississinewa 1, Mt. Vernon 14
MV: Cleo Mills two goals, Alaina Nelson two goals, Morgan Scruggs two goals and an assist.