HUNTINGTON — Scoring a hat trick is never easy work. Toward the end of her game Wednesday night, Jessica Van Heynigen watched from the sidelines with ice attached to both hips.
“I just felt some bumps and bruises here and there,” Van Heynigen said. “Coach always talks about RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) so I put it on there.”
Van Heynigen didn’t come out of the game because of injury, she came out because the Gateway Regional girls soccer team was firmly in control against Renaissance and won 5-1.
Van Heynigen’s first two goals came on assists from Samantha Belardo and Ava Auclair — Belardo’s on a centering pass and Auclair’s on a picturesque through ball. On Gateway’s first goal, Van Heynigen fed Belardo.
“We just click together,” Van Heynigen said of Belardo. “We are going to build on this. We have high expectations.”
The victory over Renaissance came just a day after the Gators (3-0-1) beat Smith Academy.
“That win gave us momentum, that’s (Smith Academy) our biggest rival.” Van Heynigen said.
Van Heynigen’s third goal came on an errant Renaissance goal kick in the second half. The senior collected the ball and drilled into the net to make it 4-0.
The Gators have looked good early in the season, but still have areas to improve.
“I am happy with the progress but we know we have needs and I am trying to fill them,” Gateway coach Steve Estelle said. “But I have a great group.”
Later in the game, eighth-grader Kendyll Wing scored her first varsity goal. Off a corner kick, Gabby Goralczyk headed the ball toward Wing, who calmly guided it past Renaissance goalie Da-Sha Wilson.
“Honestly I teared up a little,” Wing said. “I don’t know how to describe it. Gabby was in the middle of the goal box. It went up in the air and connected with my foot.”
Renaissance had a very difficult time mustering any offense, as sweeper Juliana Dickenson gobbled up any threats before they reached Gateway’s goal.
“I’ve had a handful of great sweepers, and she’s (Dickenson) one of them,” Estelle said. “All coaches should enjoy having a defensive player like that.”
Estelle also uses Dickenson for corner kicks. The sweeper rarely missed the center of the goal box. This accuracy led to several scoring opportunities for the Gators.
One momentary lapse came late in the game when Renaissance’s Desiree Crawford got loose on a breakaway to make it 5-1 with 6 minutes, 15 second left.
Becca Herman and Donna Viel shared time in net for the Gators and only faced one shot.
The Gators kept Wilson (five saves) busy throughout the game with nine shots.