The Tigers' Olivia Baca knocks in Edwardsville's first goal of the season in this photo against Rochester on Monday night at Edwardsville. (Photos by Dan Brannan)

EDWARDSVILLE - Senior striker Olivia Baca got Edwardsville off to a dream start with two goals in the first five minutes, then sophomore Mea Hook scored in the seventh minute and it would be all the Tigers really needed as Edwardsville went on to a season-opening 6-0 win over Rochester in the first game of the Metro Cup showcase Monday night at Tiger Stadium.

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The weather was less than ideal, with temperatures in the mid-30s on an overcast day, but the Tigers were able to start off quickly and dominate play throughout the entire 80 minutes.

"We have a lot of new faces this season and tonight, it came together well, with three goals in each half," said Edwardsville head coach Abby Federmann. "Baca was solid per usual, and with the support of Mea Hook, Kylie Peel, and Anna Maxim, she was able to execute."

The Rockets were able to settle down after the Tigers' fast start and play well, but Edwardsville made the adjustments and was able to continue to dominate play.

"Rochester came out tough in the second half with some adjustments that we needed to work through," Federmann said. "We did that well and were able to find the back of the net three times. It was a strong group effort and our back line led the charge in many of the counterattacks."

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Senior Laney Wiegers and freshman Genny Burroughs shared the clean sheet in goal and both played well in preserving the Edwardsville shutout.

"Each came up with some saves and proved themselves to be aggressive leaders," Federmann said.

Things started off right for the Tigers in the third minute when Baca took a cross in the box and scored on a tap-in to put the Tigers ahead 1-0. Baca then doubled the lead in the fifth minute, getting the ball inside the Rochester box and beating goalie Alyse Day with a well-placed strike to make it 2-0. In the seventh minute, a cross inside the box fell to Hook, who calmly tapped it home to give Edwardsville a 3-0 lead and sent the Tigers into dreamland heading into halftime.

Edwardsville did have some good chances later on, as Day was able to parry a couple of Baca shots off the woodwork and Hook had a chance in the 21st minute that was cleared nicely. Meanwhile, Wiegers, who played in the first half, aggressively slid out to stop a Rocket opportunity, and in the 32nd minute, Abby Jarszynski had Rochester's best chance of the half but was easily stopped by Wiegers as the Tigers went into the interval leading 3-0.

The second half started off well for Edwardsville, as in the 47th minute, Thea Dimitroff knocked home a cross from Baca into the corner of the goal to put the Tigers up 4-0. In the 52nd minute, Baca completed her hat trick with a spectacular curling shot from distance that found the upper right corner of the net. The golazo put Edwardsville ahead 5-0, and in the 61st minute, Ella Cook found the back of the net off a scramble in front from a Tiger corner to complete the scoring to give Edwardsville the 6-0 win.

The Rockets start the season off 0-1-0, while the Tigers open their 2023 account at 1-0-0 and will host Mascoutah Wednesday evening in a 7:45 p.m. kickoff, then play at 2022 Class 2A champion Triad Saturday afternoon in a 1 p.m. kickoff. Edwardsville then host their first two Southwestern Conference matches Mar. 21 against Collinsville at 6:30 p.m. and Mar. 23 against O'Fallon in a 6:45 p.m. start.

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