WOOD RIVER — Friends off the field turned into fireworks on the field when the East Alton-Wood River Oilers battled the Roxana Shells for bragging rights Tuesday at Wood River Soccer Park.
The Shells triumphed over the Oilers, 3-0, as freshman Emma Lucas continued to surprise her coach Lori Yates by scoring her second hat trick in as many days.
The Shells improved to 9-5 after their win over the Oilers and a victory over Gillespie on Monday. EA-WR fell to 2-12 and continues to find its way with a young squad.
"We played really well today," Yates said. "We know that we can never underestimate Wood River. They come out just as hard as we do. I told the girls in the beginning, 'Don't think any game will be an easy win.' We know Wood River is going to want the win just as much as we do."
Lucas continues to lead Roxana with 17 goals. The only complaint Yates has about her young freshman is that she wishes Lucas would take more shot attempts.
"She always delivers," Yates said. "She's our leading scorer. If you watch her play, you know why she's a top scorer. I can always count on her when she gets the ball, she'll put it to the net. If she'd make more shots, I believe her numbers would be considerably higher.
"She's also really good at controlling the field. She has a bright future."
As the rivalry heated up, the scoring opportunities lessened. Lucas finally found her way to the goal with just 3:21 remaining in the first half, off an assist by freshman Brittany Alexander.
The Oilers still felt optimistic going into halftime down by just one goal.
"Roxana has a great ball club," EA-WR head coach Matt Herndon said. "I think they may have come in a little over confident today. They know that we're a little down this year. We have the numbers, but we fall short on experience, that leaves us looking raw and rough out there. I know our girls played hard and gave it their all today."
The Oilers' defense held the Shells off for the first 15 minutes of the second half. Then senior Claire Bollinger found Lucas in the right place at the right time to bury her second goal of the game. The Shells welcomed the insurance goal to give them some space with the 2-0 lead.
EA-WR senior Chrissy Long made more than half a dozen saves in the second half, but ran out of reach in the final seconds.
Lucas and the Shells capitalized on what Herndon referred to as a 50/50 call with just 24 seconds left in the match after she collided with two EA-WR defenders on the field. Lucas earned the hat trick on a penalty shot just outside the 18-yard box to make it 3-0.
"We struggled just a little bit first half, but made improvements in the second," Yates said. "We know that no matter what type of season they're having, Wood River is a strong team. I think both teams are a little more motivated when they have the opportunity to play each other."
The Oilers head to Hillsboro on Thursday to face off with the HIlltoppers at 4:30 p.m. The Shells will play host to the Southwestern Piasa Birds on Thursday, also at 4:30 p.m.