NEW PORT RICHEY — Jeans aside, Mitchell coach Karl Kukec was bedecked Tuesday in business attire — sports jacket, tie, white button-down shirt — as if ready for a routine day at the office.
Which is exactly what the Mustangs provided him.
Exploiting their speed advantage up front, the Mustangs (11-1-2) got a hat trick from junior forward Marisa Russo in a highly touted 3-1 triumph against Hudson (14-2-1) that drew roughly 60 spectators. Mitchell, still unbeaten against Pasco County competition, snapped the Cobras' 11-match win streak.
"Those guys are just a little bit quicker off the ball than we are," Cobras coach Chris Rizzieri said, "and that was the difference."
On a breezy night, the Mustangs' objective was obvious: Clear the ball into Hudson's zone and allow their fleet forwards to chase it down in a footrace. The result was 18 shots on goal to the Cobras' 10. Hudson, which entered with a pair of 15-goal scorers in senior Lindsay Zullo and junior Alicia Schuering, managed 10 shots.
"What we wanted to do in this game was play more direct, because we knew we had some speed up on top," Kukec said. "And the fact that their defense moved up as a unit all the way gave us a lot of space between the defense and the goalkeeper."
Russo's first goal, in the 10th minute, came on a textbook cross from classmate Jessica Jagielski. Four minutes later, Hudson goalkeeper Jessie Imbimbo (nine saves) was yellow-carded for coming out of the box and handling the ball on a breakaway attempt. Russo scored on the ensuing free kick.
Zullo scored directly in front of the Mustangs' net 15 minutes into the second half. Then, following a lunging save by keeper Laura Seletos on a Cobras free kick, Russo tallied her final goal with less than 10 minutes remaining.
That put the contest away — a bit later than Kukec had hoped.
"I think we did not capitalize on the many chances that we had," he said. "I don't want to take anything away from the Hudson team; they played a hard game. I think we had many chances and couldn't convert."