goal scoring dynamo Kailey Utley admitted late in Friday's MSHSAA Class 3 District 5 girls soccer championship game, that she sometimes uses an unusual tactic when she makes her move toward the opposing goal.
"Sometimes I close my eyes, and the ball just goes in," is what Utley told teammates who were congratulating her after she scored for the third time in the Pirates district title game showdown against rival Hazelwood West, at the Lou Fusz Soccer Complex.
The other Pattonville players laughed when Utley said that, and it's a pretty good bet that she was just joking.
But if that statement were true, shooting with her eyes closed was effective for Utley, Pattonville's all-time goal scorer, who delivered in a big way once again for the Pirates, with three goals in a spectacular 5-0 Pattonville victory over the overheated and overmatched Wildcats.
"I don't know what to say, I just try to go out there and win the game," Utley said, about her tongue-in-cheek playing proclamation. "I just work as hard as I can. I mean, it's always a team effort, and if I can score a goal, it helps our team. So that's what I try to do."
And she did it in increasingly dynamic fashion on Friday.
First, Utley, who will be playing college soccer at the University of West Virginia next fall, showed off the magnificent speed she's been so well-known for the last four years, and broke to a free ball just outside the Hazelwood West net.
She then ripped a shot past West goalkeeper Alex Linck at the 10-minute mark to make the score 1-0.
Then after teammate Kimberly Hulse buried a free kick past Linck to make the score 2-0 at the 14-minute mark, Utley lifted a centering pass toward the Wildcat net in the 18th minute, that West defender Samantha Holland couldn't clear.
Holland's pass attempt wound up as an own goal, with Utley credited for the score that made it 3-0 Pirates.
"One of our gameplans was to get after them early," Pattonville head coach Tom Iffrig said. "Even at the beginning of the game, our goal was to score in the first five minutes.
"With us beating them the first time around, we thought if we scored early, it's going to kind of break their back."
That plan sure worked well, as West could hardly get anything going at all offensively against Pattonville.
And then once the Wildcats tried even harder to mount a comeback, they quickly ran out of energy, during a surprisingly warm 95-degree day in late May.
"We work hard to try to score the first goal," West head coach Jason Sellers said. "But when we don't, the other team gets to dictate play, and that's what happened today.
"It's hard in this game to come back against anybody, but it was especially hard against a really well-coached team like Pattonville."
Utley was able to take advantage of West's worn out defense near the midway point of the second half, when she broke through the box and around two defenders, and then blistered another shot into the back of West's net for her third goal of the day, and 27th of the season to make the score 4-0 Pattonville.
Freshman phenom ended the scoring a few minutes later, when she made a similar move around a West defender, and scored her 24th goal of the season.
"It just feels good to win another district (championship)," Utley said, as the Pirates claimed their fourth straight title.
The Pirates were without fellow senior leader Mikala McGhee, who tweeted after the game that she had to sit out because of a pair of yellow cards in the team's previous contest.
Pattonville (20-5) will now move on to the MSHSAA Class 3 sectionals, where they will play District 6 winner Francis Howell North (14-10) on Tuesday, May 22, at Howell North.
Gametime is set for 7 p.m. that evening, with the winner advancing to the state quarterfinals, which would be played on Saturday, May 26.
Hazelwood West, which finished second to Pattonville in the Suburban North Conference and in districts for the second straight year, ended the season with a 14-9 record.