NEW PORT RICHEY — Freshman forward Amanda Hayes scored two goals in the final 16 minutes to rally Mitchell to a 2-1 victory over rival River Ridge on Thursday night.
The battle between arguably the two best teams in Pasco County lived up to expectations as the Mustangs won a tight contest for the second time in as many meetings this season.
The Mustangs came out flat in the first half, allowing the Royal Knights multiple opportunities at the goal. During a 2-on-1 situation in the 29th minute, River Ridge midfielder Nicole Screnock passed to forward Sarah Olin, who blasted the ball past Mitchell goalkeeper Erica Disbrow for a 1-0 lead.
"We had to make some changes, and we switched to three attacking players and we were successful with that," Mitchell coach Karl Kukec said. "We had to match intensity with River Ridge's intensity. We had to get more aggressive."
Mitchell certainly heeded Kukec's words in the second half, outshooting River Ridge eight to five.
Hayes received a pass from Danielle Misener in the 64th minute and scored from 15 yards out on a turnaround blast past goalkeeper Lisa Jadick to tie the game 1-1.
The freshman phenom wasn't done, converting a breakaway in the 76th minute for the winning goal.
"I saw (the breakaway) and I was screaming for the ball," Hayes said. "(The defender) left me wide open. It was a battle."
Mitchell improves to 10-1-1, while River Ridge falls to 8-3-1. The Royal Knights lost to the Mustangs 1-0 earlier in the year.
"It was a good win because it shows me that, if it comes down to it in the districts or later rounds of the playoffs, that we're capable of getting that goal," Kukec said.