EAST WENATCHEE — The Wildcats looked much improved in their 5-3 home-opener Thursday night against the Cashmere Bulldogs.
Jayden Brown recorded a hat-trick and Megan Chandler chipped in a pair of goals as both forwards fed off each other well and generated a handful of quality opportunities throughout the contest.
“They are going to have a lot of opportunities and they play off each other well,” head coach Vidal Hurtado said of Brown and Chandler. “They have played with each other for a while and know one another’s weaknesses and strengths. I’m just excited to see them play in the Big 9.”
Though Eastmont was in the drivers’ seat for the majority of the match the Wildcats trailed 2-1 heading into halftime following a 20-minute stretch where Cashmere had Eastmont on its heels.
Megan Chandler scored the initial goal in the 22nd minute to give the Wildcats the early lead but Cashmere’s Chloe Diaz responded with a splendid goal off a free-kick just four minutes later.
“After that, we were a little bit stressed and under some pressure,” Hurtado said.
Chandler nearly scored her second in the half after making a nice run through the middle of the Cashmere defense, but the Bulldogs’ freshman keeper Ava Courtney – who played well – reeled in the attempt. Minutes later, Diaz took on three Eastmont defenders and fired a shot at Kora Fry, who blocked the initial shot but allowed a rebound (and subsequent) goal to Bulldogs’ senior Ali Ball.
“At halftime, we brought it back down to Earth and talked about what worked well over the first 20-minutes, which was playing on the ground and feeding the ball and Jayden and Megan with through-balls,” Hurtado said. “And it was up to them to make sure that they finished.”
Finished they did.
Eastmont dominated the second half and poured in four goals. One from Chandler and three from Brown. Diaz scored her second goal to bring Cashmere within two in the 73rd minute, but the game was over by that point.
“We turned it on defensively and I think we did well at covering spaces,” Hurtado said. “Annelise Bauman did an amazing job as our last person… you (never) want to get scored on a bunch, but I’m happy with how they played and pleased we got the win at home. Personally I think we played better today than we did on Saturday against Southridge. The first 20 minutes, playing on the ground and feeding the strikers. That is something to grow on and work with.”
The Wildcats hit the road Saturday to play Hazen in their last non-league tune-up match before opening their Big 9 season at West Valley on Tuesday.
“I’m looking forward to the season opener on Tuesday and see where we stand in our league,” Hurtado said.
Kickoff on Saturday is at 1 p.m., and 7 p.m., Tuesday.