Defending Four Rivers Conference girls soccer champion Union proved it’s ready for the new campaign Monday.

The Lady ’Cats opened the 2013 season with a dominating Four Rivers Conference victory at St. Clair (0-3-1), 8-0.

“I was happy with the way the girls played,” Union Head Coach Matt Fennessey said. “They played good, they played hard and it was fun to finally get out and play against some competition. Three weeks of practice gets long. It’s nice to see them run around and play against some competition.”

St. Clair started last weekend at the Warrenton Tournament.

“It’s our fourth game of the season,” St. Clair Head Coach Ted Koenigsfeld said. “We had a long weekend at Warrenton. We anticipated Union playing strong and made some adjustments to the lineup to counter that. They’re a strong team. I’m not disappointed in how we played. We came out and measured success in doing little things. We learned from the weekend and applied it here.

The game, originally scheduled to be played at Union, was switched to St. Clair’s turf field after heavy weekend rain.

Sisters Alyssa and Bethany Coons each scored hat tricks for Union in the game while Bri Clark and Taylor Gaebe also found the net for the Lady ’Cats.

While the score was one-sided, it could have been worse. St. Clair goalkeeper Sam Deason made a number of key saves which kept Union from adding to the final total.

“She sure did keep us in the game,” Koenigsfeld said. “She’s being very strong back there. She’s really doing a good job of keeping her head in the game. She’s matured a lot from last year. I’ve really been impressed with her play both at Warrenton and here tonight.”

Fennessey agreed.

“Sam played a great game,” Fennessey said. “I told the girls that we had a lot of shots, but she seemed to be at the right spot at the right time. She played a really nice game.”

Defensively, Union didn’t face much pressure from St. Clair. The Lady ’Cats emphasized control and moved the ball around crisply. Union’s back four mainly served in possession to switch fields and feed the wingbacks, who frequently started the offense with forays up the flanks.

“I thought Emily Nowak played a real solid game getting forward with the ball and being dangerous in the offensive end,” Fennessey said. “Alicia Brueggemann and Abbie Brack did a nice job in the center back spots and squashed any chances.”

Union goalkeeper Brianna Lakebrink posted the shutout but rarely touched the ball.

Both teams were back in action Tuesday. Union visits Borgia with JV action opening the day at 5 p.m. St. Clair played another Four Rivers Conference match, hosting Pacific with varsity action at 5 p.m.

St. Clair plays Wednesday at Borgia while Union visits North County. JV action at both venues starts at 5 p.m.

Monday Match

Looking to stay ahead of the schedule, the athletic directors agreed to switch the venues for their two league matches to keep things on track. While muddy off of the turf, the St. Clair pitch was in perfect condition for the match.

Union took advantage of the smooth turf to run a possession game while probing the St. Clair defense for weaknesses.

Clark scored Union’s first goal early in the game with Bethany Coons drawing the assist.

But Union was frustrated for a bit until Bethany Coons scored after a throw-in from the right side in the 17th minute. Natalie Helling assisted the goal.

Union continued to pressure the St. Clair net, but Deason kept the ball out of goal until Alyssa Coons scored in the 30th minute by moving the ball up the middle. Clark assisted on the play.

Alyssa Coons scored her second goal in the 35th minute. Clark made a pass up the middle and Kaila AuBuchon was credited with the assist.

Union held that 4-0 advantage at the break.

In the 48th minute, Alyssa Coons completed her hat trick by staying with a loose ball. Deason made the initial save and seemed to grab it just prior to it going over the line, but never could completely control it.

Alyssa Coons tapped it in for the goal. Bethany Coons was credited with an assist by the statisticians.

In the 55th minute, Gaebe netted her first high school goal with a header inside the far post. Kaylyn Bigley assisted on the goal.

In the 69th minute, Bethany Coons scored after moving through the middle of the field. Alyssa Coons assisted on the marker.

Bethany Coons capped scoring just over a minute later, taking a cross from AuBuchon to hit the back of the net and close the scoring.