QUINCY -- Don't let the 4-1 score fool you. Quincy Notre Dame girls soccer coach Mark Longo wasn't thrilled with his team's play in victory.
"I asked the girls after the game, "How did you think you played? Grade us,'" Longo said. "Some of them said A, some of them said B-plus, I think we were a C at best."
Don't let the 4-1 score fool you. Quincy High School coach Travis Dinkheller actually was pleased with his team's effort Tuesday night at Advance Physical Therapy Field.
"We knew offensively (QND was) going to bring it and be relentless, but we were battling," Dinkheller said. "We hung in there, Did we give up some chances? Yes, but we also had kind of an idea of what we needed to do offensively."
Nearly halfway through the second half, the Raiders (6-0) maintained only a 2-1 lead when Erin Barnes followed advice she got from her coach. She maneuvered through a couple of Blue Devils defenders and ripped a shot from outside the top of the penalty box to score with 22 minutes remaining.
It was a carbon copy of a goal Barnes scored with eight minutes left in the first half -- juking defenders to find a spot from which to shoot outside of the penalty box.
"I came off the bench to go in, and Longo said, 'Next time, you go straight to the goal," Barnes explained. "So that's kind of what I did. I didn't want to get benched, so I decided to make it happen."
"When do you notice Erin on the field? When she get the ball and goes straight ahead," Longo said. "If they would just listen to that, we're so much better."
The Blue Devils did what they could with their few chances.
Moments after Emme Kirn's goal put the Raiders on top midway through the first half, Alexis Miranda chipped a shot toward the goal that Raiders goalkeeper Madison L. Meyer punched over the crossbar.
On the ensuing corner kick by Miranda, Samantha Boyer beat Meyer to the near post and got her foot on the ball, flicking in into the net to tie the game.
"She just stuck out her foot and redirected it," Dinkheller said. "I wouldn't call it a bicycle kick, but it sure was an athletic play."
Down 2-1 at halftime, the Blue Devils were pleased.
"They've brought into the game plan," Dinkheller said. "We defended well, and at halftime, they were feeling pretty well against a team that's going to score a lot of goals."
The goal served as a wake-up call for the Raiders.
"It was like, 'C'mon, guys, let's step it up," Barnes said. "That can't happen again."
It didn't. QND outshot QHS 18-2, and it had a 17-1 advantage in corner kicks. The Raiders put the game away with 19:48 left to play when Taylor Keck converted on a corner kick by Evans.
"With the numbers they throw forward, it's kind of hard to do what you want to do offensively," Dinkheller said.
Barnes says the expectations for a team that returns eight players from last year's Class 1A state champions haven't been a burden.
"The expectation of being held to a higher standard is good for all of our players," she said. "We have to meet that expectation. It's something Longo created, and it's something we have to maintain."
Longo, meanwhile, knows he can't expect his team to be perfect in March.
"We will figure things out," he said. "Right now, we're trying too hard. I have to remember that years ago, beating Quincy 4-1 would have meant we're jumping up and down celebrating.
"I know we can be a whole lot better than what we're doing."
QND 4, QHS 1
7 Fouls 7
18 Shots 2
2 Saves 9
17 Corner Kicks 1
1 Offsides 0
QND 2 2--4
QHS 1 0--1
QND--Emme Kirn (Morgan Evans), 20:58.
QHS--Samantha Boyer (Alexis Miranda), 24:53.
QND--Erin Barnes (unassisted), 31:58.
QND--Barnes (unassisted), 57:49.
QND--Taylor Keck (Evans), 60:12.