BY JOHN BOHNENKAMP
FORT MADISON – Carrie Burken was seeing the missed opportunities.
Which is why the Fort Madison girls soccer coach was a little more animated in the first half of Monday’s match against Fairfield at the Baxter Sports Complex.
What was different for the Bloodhounds this time was they converted on their scoring chances.
A convincing 8-1 win got Fort Madison (4-4 overall, 2-4 Southeast Conference) back to even for the season, another sign of improvement for a team that is finding its identity.
It was the third consecutive victory for the Bloodhounds, who have outscored their opponents 22-4 in this streak.
“Our offense is really looking good right now,” Burken said. “We’re really connecting on passes. I think it gets better and better with each game, each practice. Getting those touches, getting those passing rhythms down. And the finishing is getting better.”
Claire Pothitakis, who leads Fort Madison with 16 goals this season, scored three times. Taylor Crabtree scored twice, and Brandy Walker, Alana Simpson and Nadia Leveling had one goal.
That balance pleased Burken.
“It’s not just Claire scoring, it’s three other girls scoring, four other girls scoring,” Burken said. “It’s nice to know it doesn’t have to come from one person. For us as a team, that means other teams’ defenses can’t focus on one person, because there are multiple people up there scoring who are threats. So that’s huge.”
The Bloodhounds had some near-misses early in the match, which prompted Burken to remember the 2-1 loss to the Trojans earlier this season, when Fort Madison had 14 shots on goal.
“Part of the reason I was so animated was the same thing happened the last time we played them,” Burken said. “We had so many chances that we didn’t convert. And so I was like, ‘Oh, I don’t want this to be like the last time.’ Even when we were up 3-1, I was still a little bit anxious.”
But the Bloodhounds made sure to put this one away quickly. They led 4-1 at halftime, then scored three goals in the first 10 minutes of the second half.
Fort Madison had 24 shots on goal.
“They know how good they are now,” Burken said of her team. “They want to score, I want them to score. I want them to do well. So every good chance they create is a positive moving forward.”
The Bloodhounds’ defense squeezed Fairfield, with the Trojans’ only goal coming in the first half on a ball that skidded and took a bad hop on the wet grass past Fort Madison keeper Kailyn Guzman.
“Defensively, we were very good,” Burken said.