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Phoenix girls pull away from Henley

TALENT ' The seventh-ranked Phoenix girls soccer team all but smothered one of the most high-powered offenses in District 6 Thursday, not allowing a single Henley shot in the second half of its 3-1 victory at Hagler-James Park.

It was just the second time in school history that Phoenix (8-4, 6-0 District 6) has beaten the Hornets (6-3-1, 3-2 District 6).

And the Pirates put themselves in the catbird seat in the league standings with two games remaining in the regular season.

We've been talking all year about needing to dial up our game from the first half to the second half, Pirates coach John Doty said. The biggest evidence of that is that they didn't have a shot on goal in the second half

(Henley junior) Heather Olliffe is one of the leading scorers in the league and Becky Schwartz has scored more goals in her career than anybody else that's playing in the league right now. But they were non-factors today.

Phoenix junior Larrisa Wiltrout scored twice to lead the way. She gave the Pirates the early lead, beating Henley goalkeeper Chelsea Hornbeck low to the right side on a penalty kick in the 10th minute.

Wiltrout, who scored her ninth goal of the season in the second half, said the initial goal took a load of pressure off the Pirates.

We haven't beaten Henley in my career, she said. I felt we were prepared and we knew they were going to bring it, but the first goal was a good feeling. Even though we were leading at the half, I was saying we need to get another one, because it's too intense of a game to leave it at 2-1.

Olliffe scored her ninth goal of the season in the 25th minute, tying the match 1-1, when she looped a ball over Phoenix keeper Jaclyn Unruh's head. Schwartz had the assist.

Phoenix senior Mary Jacobs gave the Pirates their second lead of the day, finding the net in the 30th minute. With that slight advantage, Phoenix turned up the heat in the second half.

Hornbeck, who is a Henley freshman, made 13 saves in the match, and the Pirates outshot the Hornets 28-3 overall and 13-0 in the final 40 minutes.

I thought Chelsea Hornbeck really kept us in the game. It really could have been a lot worse, Henley coach Lupe Gonzales said. Phoenix won the 50-50 balls and controlled the tempo of the game.

I thought their midfield really took over and outplayed us.

Phoenix junior Kat Cox took control of the ball just outside the 18-yard box, angled to her right and struck a perfect through ball to Wiltrout, who beat the keeper to the near post in the 53rd minute for the final score of the game.

We really created a lot of opportunities early on, but we were really tentative about things, said Doty, whose only other victory over Henley came in 1999 when the Pirates won the league championship. But we gained confidence and got the monkey off our back.

The game was played as a commemorative to the old Talent High School (1912-1960).

It's the fourth such tribute game for Phoenix dating to 1999, and it has won three of them.