THIBODAUX, La. – The Nicholls State University women's soccer team opened the 2013 regular season in a huge way on Friday afternoon getting a hat trick from Jess Coates amid five second half goals in an 8-1 win over the Southern University Jaguars at the Nicholls Soccer Complex.
Nicholls won a season opener for the first time since 2011, as the eight goals the Colonels (1-0) scored on the day ties the program record for most in a contest. The hat trick by Coates is the first by a Nicholls player since Kaity Mattson accomplished the feat back in 2010.
With a thin Southern (0-1) roster, the Colonels attacked from the opening horn and never looked back scoring three goals in the first half and five in the second. Outside of Coates' three goals, Shelby Smith, Hannah Savoie, Kelsey Sanders and Miranda O'Neil scored the first goals of their Nicholls career on Friday, with Savoie assisting on the final two Coates goals.
Amanda Boylson (1-0) earned the win giving up just one goal in 59 minutes of action. Josie Stiles closed out the match and played 30 minutes. It wasn't as easy for Jaguars goalie Sarah Forde (0-1) who played the entire match and had nine saves as Nicholls outshot Southern 24-1.
Coates got Nicholls on the board just three minutes in, blasting a shot to the far right post past the keeper to put Nicholls up 1-0 early. Coates was the beneficiary of solid passes from Melissa Pestalozzi and Lauren O'Brien who were each credited with an assist.
The Colonels got a bit of a break for the second goal, as Spencer Valdespino fired what looked to be a cross that bounced off of a Southern defender and into the net to put Nicholls up 2-0 in the 11th minute of the contest.
After scoring last week in the exhibition, Smith came into the game and scored nearly six minutes later after a pass from Kirsten Cunningham that passed through the middle of the box and into the back of the net for a 3-0 Nicholls lead. Southern got on the board with a goal in the 40th minute to end the half with a 3-1 Nicholls advantage.
Identical plays that were two minutes apart secured the hat trick, as Savoie dribbled down the right side of the field towards the goal and found Coates waiting at point blank range to fire the pass in the 53rd and 55th minute to make it a 5-1 game. Savoie then scored her own goal after a deflected show made its way back to her to fire in the winner to make it 6-1.
After coming in the game and seeing some action early in the season, Kelsey Sanders scored the first goal of her career in the 81st minute kicking the ball past a scrum in the front of the net to make it 7-1, with the final goal coming from O'Neil in the 82nd minute, scoring on a breakaway.
Nicholls will be back in action on Sunday afternoon, hosting the South Alabama Jaguars at 1 p.m. in Thibodaux.