Hat tricks are kind of . . . well, old hat for Centennial sophomore striker Michelle Clare.
Clare recorded her third hat trick of the season last night and it was more than enough to carry the fourth-seeded Eagles to a 3-1 victory over top-seeded South Carroll in a 3A-4A West regional girls soccer semifinal game at South Carroll.
Clare showed a little bit of everything last night, touch, speed, quickness and good anticipation as she sent three shots past the Cavaliers backup goalie Erin Nauyalis, who was starting only her second varsity game.
Nauyalis was playing in place of South Carroll's No. 1 goalkeeper Kendra Pulis, who is out with a severe shoulder injury.
Nauyalis came up big in the first 24 minutes of the game, coming out of the goal to halt several promising Centennial scoring opportunities.
But suddenly Clare struck at the 24:24 mark of the first half on a nice soft floater into the right corner of the net off a toss-in from Allison Hooper for a 1-0 lead.
The lead was short-lived as 13th-ranked South Carroll (10-2-1) came back 1:38 later to score on a shot by freshman Lindsey Vosloh off a corner kick by Jaimee Isaacs for a 1-1 tie.
The Vosloh goal seemed to touch off some premature celebrating by the home team, because 23 seconds later eighth-ranked Centennial (7-2-3) scored to go ahead again.
Before the Cavaliers really knew what hit them, the Eagles were fast-breaking down the field and Clare was tapping the ball past Nauyalis off a pass from freshman Laura Molinaro for what proved to be the deciding goal.
South Carroll started to control the action in the second half and hadan excellent chance to tie the game 14 minutes into that period.
The Cavaliers had an indirect kick inside the box, and Vosloh passed the ball over to scoring star Amber Clutter, who sent it too far over the right corner of the crossbar.
After the failed indirect kick, South Carroll had a couple more chances to tie the game, but was hurt by some poor passes.
That gave Clare the opportunity to chip a shot into the net with 1:24 left in the game to make it 3-1.
Clare said: "We were a little quicker in transition than they were and that's why I think we won. If we keep playing like this, we should go all the way."