REIFFTON >> An NCAA Division 1 prospect can be a tough assignment for any opposing high school team to corral. The Daniel Boone girls’ soccer team got a taste of that Monday night.
Exeter’s Jackie Richards compiled a hat trick, with assisting tallies from teammates Katie Riley and Ariana Kline, as the host Eagles defeated the Blazers 5-1 in the Berks League Section 1 opener for both.
Richards — a 16-year-old junior forward who has upcoming recruiting visits at the University of Cincinnati and Xavier — notched a hat trick for the second consecutive game, giving her six goals in Exeter’s last two contests. Playing out of a 4-5-1 as the lone striker against Boone, she was nearly unstoppable against a young Blazers back four.
“I knew that my team could play the ball past them (Boone) and I could run onto the ball and score,” Richards said.
Her first goal of the game, coming just 4:50 in, was highlight reel gold. Richards broke free against a high defensive line, broke down Boone’s lone defender left, in the box, and planted a shot off a last-instant deflect to the lower left corner of the net.
After Riley doubled Exeter’s advantage late in the first half from about eight yards out off a corner kick for a 2-0 Exeter lead at the break, Richards buried her second 10 minutes in the second half, from short range. Her third came on a howitzer of strike from about 20 yards out on the left-hand side and nestled into the upper left corner of the net, to make it a 4-1 contest 25 minute and change from time.
“Jackie is a pleasure to coach, for sure,” Exeter first-year coach Emily Gingrich said. “She definitely the fastest player in the county. She’s very coachable, she brings this team together and she shows up when it matters.
“She holds her own and then her plays impact everybody else. They get excited and the plays they make builds them all up. She is the type of player who makes everyone around here better.”
Exeter (2-2, 1-0) whisked 11 shots on target, displaying a linkup ability that can make the Eagles a contender. It was too much for Boone to handle on this night.
“We made adjustments. She makes it happen no matter what,” Boone head coach Tory Bilger said of Richards. “She’s got the speed and she’s got the skill.”
Boone’s Hannah Starolis tallied the Blazers’ only goal one minute after Richards scored her second of the night. It was one of six shots on target for Boone but the only one that made it to the back of the net.