University High School lived up to its top ranking in a 3-0 girls soccer road victory over Episcopal on Monday night.
The Cubs played most of the game on their offensive side of the field and had 16 shots on goal and seven corner kicks. In contrast, former district rival EHS had no shots on goal and no corner kicks.
Delaney Smith, Madison Catalanotto and Jessica Shelby scored goals for University (9-1-2). Episcopal senior keeper Isabella Rubiano had 10 saves. Tenth-ranked EHS (3-7-2) played without three starters.
“I’m excited about the success we’ve had so far this season,” University coach Melissa Ramsey said. “It’s a huge honor to be the top-ranked team in Division III. This is my sixth year here, and we’ve never been ranked No. 1 before. The girls have to step up and handle the pressure because people are gunning for us now.”
Smith’s goal from 18 yards out came in the 25th minute and followed two other misses in the sequence.
The Cubs led 1-0 at halftime.
“We always emphasize following shots, and it was great for our freshman Delaney Smith to score on a ricochet,” Ramsey said.
University added two second-half goals in a seven-minute span to put the game away. Catalanotto scored in the 64th minute on a 20-yard shot. Shelby scored in the 71st minute from the left side off a nice assist from Kate McKowen. It was Shelby’s 15th goal of the season. She leads the Cubs in scoring.
“We played Madison Catalanotto at outside mid for the first time, and she just hit a rocket of a shot,” Ramsey said. “Jessica Shelby hit it one touch. All three goals were pretty nice.”
Episcopal advanced to at least the Division III playoff quarterfinals the past six years and has a new coach in Marvin Smith, the former Runnels coach. The Knights are led by defenders Caroline Sides and Elizabeth Binning and forward Sadie Spring.
“I was proud of my defense,” Smith said. “They were working the whole game. We didn’t generate much of an attack. We just haven’t been able to have a full complement here of players due to injuries or illness. We have potential.”
When Episcopal did go on the attack University’s back four of Ellen Bottcher, Olivia Labarre, Madison Morgan and Hannah Hyman were ready.
“Our back four really played well,” said Ramsey, who guided the Cubs to the semifinals in 2013. “This game was very encouraging since it was our first game back from the holiday break.
“We still have things to work on. We want to improve our attacking third. I like this team. They’ve got pep in their step.”