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Ballard continues her scoring binge as Valley Park downs Bayless

Ballard continues her scoring binge as Valley Park downs Bayless

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MARYLAND HEIGHTS • Leslie Ballard is good at drawing a crowd.

The Valley Park High sophomore striker rarely finds herself alone on the pitch.

Ballard, with defenders draped all over her most of the afternoon, still managed to score three goals to lead the Hawks past Bayless 4-1 on Monday in a South Central Athletic Association showdown at Lou Fusz Soccer Complex.

The multi-talented finisher scored in the 19th and 21st minutes to put her stamp on the game.

Ballard says she loves it when opponents gear their defense around stopping her.

“It just fires me up even more,” Ballard said. “I know that if people are going to be looking for me, trying to stop me, I have to work that much harder to help my team.”

Ballard has 13 goals in eight matches.

“I just worked hard to try and not get into my own head,” Ballard said.

Valley Park coach Tom Probst was pleased with the way Ballard kick-started the offense in the early going.

“When we can finish our chances, we can beat just about anybody we play,” Probst said. “It's a huge confidence boost because, with our team being young and inexperienced, things tend to feed off results like that.”

The Valley Park defense, led by goalkeeper Anita Kraus, held down the fort while Ballard took care of things on the offensive end.

Bayless (5-3, 0-2) had trouble finishing its chance, thanks in part to Kraus and defender Camryn Christy, who cleared a shot off the line late in the opening half while the Hawks were nursing a 2-0 lead.

“We made a lot of clears today,” Christy said. “We know Anita is good. It's great to have her back there, so we just do our part.”

Ballard finished off her hat trick in the second half and Abbie Farless added her sixth goal of the season as the Hawks improved to 4-4 overall and 1-2 in league play.

Bayless senior midfielder Amanda Kraut broke up the shutout with three minutes left.

“(Ballard) is a player,” Bayless coach David Pozzo said. “They put the ball over the top and we don't have anybody that's going to catch up with her. I think our other (issue) is that we're looking for a finisher. We've got to find somebody that can consistently do that for us.”

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