Nichols Notches Hat Trick as Spartans Top Green Mountain

Nichols Notches Hat Trick as Spartans Top Green Mountain

CASTLETON, Vt. – Fresh off North Atlantic Conference Player and Rookie of the Week honors, freshman Rylee Nichols recorded her first career hat trick to propel the Castleton women's soccer team to a convincing 7-0 victory over visiting Green Mountain in a NAC matchup Tuesday night at Spartan Stadium.

Castleton improved to 3-3-1 on the season and 2-0-0 in conference play, while Green Mountain suffered its first loss of the season and fell to 4-1 overall and 1-1 in NAC play.

The Spartans came strong out of the gates with four goals in the first nine-plus minutes of the match. Freshman Julia Carone ignited the Spartan attack with her second goal of the season just over four minutes into the contest. Makenzi Bellando lofted a cross into the box, where Carone beat the Green Mountain goalkeeper on the short side. 

Nichols clicked off a pair of goals just 39 seconds apart in the seventh minute. Bronwen Hopwood notched an assist on her first goal, saving possession near the goal line and issuing a cross in front for the one-touch tally. Moments later, Nichols gained possession at the top of the box and bent a high shot just under the crossbar to extend the Spartan lead to 3-0. Bellando stretched the Spartans' lead to 4-0 less than two minutes later, heading a through ball from Kaitie Sanders past the Eagles' goalkeeper at the 9:27 mark.

Castleton continued offensive pressure throughout the opening half, but Green Mountain goalkeeper Jessica Casey made a handful of strong saves to keep the game 4-0 after 45 minutes. Nichols got the Spartans going in the second half with her third goal of the match in the 58th minute as she fired a low shot from the right side of the box that skipped past the goalkeeper to extend the Spartans lead to 5-0.

The Spartans were not done there, as Hopwood finished a cross from Carone in the 61st minute before Mikayla Sullivan fired home a sliding shot from just inside the box on an assist from Aubra Linn in the 86th minute. That proved to be the final chance for either team as Castleton earned the 7-0, shutout victory.

Castleton finished the match with 40 shots, including 25 on goal in the victory. Kiley Baran picked up one save en route to her first career shutout as she improved to 3-1 on the season in goal for Castleton.  Casey made 18 saves despite suffering her first loss of the season for Green Mountain. The Spartans held an 11-0 advantage in corner cks, and committed seven fouls to the Eagles' four.

The Spartans will look to carry their momentum over to Saturday when they travel to Lyndon State for another NAC clash against the Hornets at 3 p.m.