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Kitts, newcomers lead Giants past Anderson

GIANTS: Marion freshman Tamar Mims battles Anderson's Hannah Bowen for possession in front of the Indians' goal just before Mims recorded the first of hertwo goals in the match on Tuesday. Taylor Kitts scored a hat tricks, Mims and sophomore Larielle Cox each scored twice as the Giants earned the North Central Conference win, 10-1 over Anderson.

By CHUCK LANDIS - clandis@chronicle-tribune.com

The blending of veteran players and newcomers is having quite an impact on an improving Marion girls' soccer team, and it was evident Tuesday on the Dick Lootens Stadium pitch.

Sure, senior Taylor Kitts was a major influence on the match and her hat trick helped lead the Giants to a 10-1 North Central Conference victory over Anderson. Kitts has 17 goal already in eight matches.

Freshman Tamar Mims broke into the scoring column in a big way with two goals, and first-year sophomore Larielle Cox also contributed two goals. Aliya Willhide and Marley White had one goal apiece. The Giants received another point on an Anderson own goal late in the match.

"Right now, we have a lot of new players," Kitts said, "but getting them in in games like these and getting a feel for how we play and work the ball around the field gives them experience and helps them in the future. It's going to help us later in the season, too."

Marion improved to 5-2-1 and 3-0 in the NCC East Division, where the Giants have out-scored their rivals 26-0. A 3-all tie with Kokomo, which plays in the West Division, did not count in the league standings.

"(Monday) we had a really hard practice because we had a game today and game Thursday (against Columbia City) and I knew the weather was going to be hot," Marion coach Jacob Boggs said. "But I let the girls know (Anderson) wasn't going to be as good as (Class 3A sixth-ranked) Homestead and I was going to use it as a time to play, work our speed and work our angles.

"We were a lot better in the second half hitting our splits down the line and we had a lot more opportunities," Boggs added. "We had like 15-20 corners and we have to be more efficient on those corners, but we're hitting those balls to the right spots."

Kitts scored two quick goals less than two minutes apart that put Marion ahead 2-0 at 32:36 of the opening half, then Mims scored her first goal at 12:19 before intermission to complete a dominant first half. Other than two quick breakaway attempts Anderson mustered, the ball remained in the Giants control the entire half.

Cox scored on a breakaway just two minutes into the second half for a 4-0 cushion. Willhide cleaned up when Anderson's goal keeper dropped the ball in front of the goal box. Anderson's Kelayjha Fleming stopped the onslaught briefly with her team's only goal with 23:50 to play, making it 5-1.

Kitts then completed her fourth hat trick of the season with 16 minutes remaining before Boggs began making wholesale substitutions. Kitts set the Marion single season scoring record with 41 goals last year and now has 81 in four years. She hasn't noticed any extra defensive attention so far this season.

"A few teams have their eye out for me," Kitts said. "But mostly, it's when we get on the field and they see I'm kind of dictating the play they try not to let me get the ball more because of how our the team reacts."

With her two second half goals, Cox doubled her season production and her speed was quite noticeable on breakaways. Mims also has the ability to score on top and break down defenses with her speed.

"It's pretty exciting, actually," Cox said. "This is my first year playing soccer, too. I played softball also and I felt like it was good conditioning for softball. The hardest part was learning how to make goals. At first I was hesitant because I never thought I was going to get there. My speed is a big asset."

Marion hosts Richmond on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. and the winner will be in the driver's seat for the East Division title and high seed for the NCC tournament. 

"We probably should have beat Kokomo and not tied them," Boggs said, "but  I knew Homestead was really good and Eastbrook was good. Those two teams I figured we'd get beat, but I still don't think we've played to our potential yet, and that's good and bad.

"A lot of teams peak and go down the summit and we haven't peaked yet," he continued. "I told the girls my plan is to peak at tournament time and that's what we're building for, fine tuning and getting a lot more experience."