BLUFFTON — Bluffton saw plenty of Bath’s Chandler Clark charging into the offensive end with the ball.
The Pirates would slow her down for a play or two, then off Clark would go again.
Clark pounded in four goals to power Bath to a 7-2 victory over Bluffton in a non-league girls soccer match Saturday afternoon at Bluffton.
Clark scored the first three goals of the match to give her a hat trick with 19:32 left in the first half.
Ainsley Miller scored two goals and had an assist for Bath.
Freshman Alexis Hammons also scored for Bath.
Bath, which lost its opener to Liberty-Benton, is 1-1.
Bluffton (0-2) got its goals from Kayla White and Reagan Mittendorf.
Bath led 4-0 and took a 5-2 lead into halftime.
Bath outshot Bluffton, 22-18.
Bluffton freshman goalkeeper Julia Mehaffie had 12 saves.
Bath freshman goalkeeper Kyla Bailey made seven saves.
Bath coach Brooke Herr changed her formation this year to have three forwards up top.
The veteran Miller is the middle forward, while Clark and Hammons are on the outside.
“We definitely tried to come into this year more attack-minded,” Herr said. “We have the talent for it. We have the speed for it. … We still want to clean it up, defensively, in the back.’’
The new formation provided dividends Saturday.
Miller made a perfect pass to Clark 25-yards out and she dribbled into the heart of the box. Clark then drilled a 12-yard strike into the lower-left corner of the net.
That gave Bath a 1-0 lead with 22:56 left in the first half.
“We really started working as a team at that point,” Clark said. “We talked about playing that ball and she played it and it was a perfect set up and it made it an easy goal.’’
At the 20:44 mark of the first half, Clark gobbled up a loose ball at the top of the 18-yard box, dribbled to 12 yards and buried it in the net.
“All week in practice we worked on being physical and hustling and I wanted to be the first one to it and put it in,” Clark said.
That made it 2-0 Bath.
A minute later Rachel Clark played a through ball to the top of the box.
The Bluffton goalkeeper came out high, but missed the play on the ball.
Clark was there to settle it, went around the keeper and drilled a 16-yard shot into the empty net to make it 3-0 with 19:32 left in the first half.
Next it was Miller who bent a curving strike into the upper-left corner of the net from 18-yards out to give Bath a 4-0 lead with 16:24 left in the first half.
For the senior Miller, she has moved from starting defender as a freshman to midfielder last year to forward this year.
“She scored 20 goals this summer,” Herr said of Miller. “She’s really good with the ball at her feet and she does really well in space.’’
Added Miller, “It’s been quite a difference because I used to be defensive-minded, then I transitioned to middle and started shooting a little bit last year.
“Then, this year they decided to put me up there (at forward) and it’s a lot better. I like to score now.’’
Mittendorf scored for Bluffton inside the heart of the box to get the Pirates within 4-1 with 10:15 left in the half.
Hammons’ goal into the upper-half of the net from 16-yards out gave Bath a 5-1 lead with 7:55 in the first half.
White’s goal for Bluffton made it 5-2 with six seconds left before halftime.
With 11:36 left in the match, Hammons took a corner kick for Bath.
The ball was lost in a scrum/scramble at the top of the goal box.
Miller came sliding into the scrum and put a toe on the ball and flicked to the back of the net.
That gave Bath a 6-2 lead.
“First, I trapped it, then I kind of fell on top of it,’’ Miller said. “Then, I got it around me and kicked it and it was deflected. Then, I stepped over and toe-poked it right in.’’
Clark’s fourth goal made it 7-2 with 10:14 to go.
In the second half, Bluffton defender Bella Basinger followed Clark all over the field. The two battled and had some spirited, clean tussles for the ball.
“That’s good for us and it’s good for me,” Clark said. “Everybody plays like that in the WBL (Western Buckeye League) so it’s getting us prepared for that.’’
Herr also liked her team’s physical play.
“We are inherently nice,” Herr said. “And we’re trying to be the team that sets the tempo and sets the physical play and I think we did that today.’’
Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0451.