PARMA — They might not be the terrors of Halloween night, but in high school playoffs, underdogs and snow can be scary.
Walsh Jesuit girls soccer had to deal with both Tuesday in its Division I regional semifinal. Solon was coming off an upset win over Hudson in its district final and the first snow of the season fell on Byers Field in Parma.
However, Walsh coach Javier Iriart had his own terror awakening.
“In the pregame, this was the first time all season where I saw Hannah [Pachan] just foaming at the mouth and ready to go,” Iriart said. “She was just so focused and hyper ready.”
For Walsh opponents, Pachan focused and hyper ready is as scary as it gets.
Pachan howled to a first-half hat trick, leading the Warriors to 6-1 rout of Solon. Walsh (15-2-3) advances to face Magnificat in a Division I regional final at noon Saturday, at Nordonia.
“He just gave a great speech ahead of the game and I just felt my blood rushing through,” Pachan said. “On this cold night, it was just all lining up perfect. I was just locked in.”
The weather provided wind gusts over 20 mph and snow throughout the game. According to Walsh’s Reagan Pentz, the frigid conditions gave the Warriors the edge.
“Tonight, it was snowing and freezing compared to a 70-degree game Saturday,” Pentz said. “Me personally and I know Hannah as well, we like playing in the cold. We were excited when the snow started coming down. It’s the first time its snowed so everyone’s not used to it yet. We just got to take advantage of that.”
Walsh didn’t take long to heat up.
In the first minute, Ciara Santiago sent a crossing ball to the back post, allowing Pachan to smash home a diving header.
Solon had an immediate reply. Off a corner kick in the second minute, the ball was cleared to the top of the box, but Solon junior Mia Patriarco launched a ball that landed just under the bar to make it 1-1.
“It was a really nice goal from Solon,” Iriart said. “What a fantastic season it was for them, given it was the first time they’ve been here in 10 years.”
Solon had its chances in the first 20 minutes before a formation switch freed up Walsh’s offense.
“We realized quickly, they outnumbered us in the midfield and we couldn’t get the ball out wide fast enough,” Iriart said. “Adding an extra midfielder helped. We pulled Ciara out and moved Sofia Boltuc in, so we took out a forward out and added a central midfielder. That gave us the solidity we needed in midfield.”
The move worked, as Pachan found room for two excellent goals.
In the 19th minute, a long ball from Walsh goalie Adri Lika bounced over a Solon player, allowing Pachan to run onto it. Pachan eluded two defenders and put it past Solon keeper Jordan Levenhagen.
Pachan’s third goal was perhaps her best. In the 26th minute, Pachan found a small crease and unleashed a shot from 30 yards out which found the corner of the net.
“There was another time I lined up the exact same way and I decided to pass it,” Pachan said. “My teammates got on me to shoot it. When I had that open space, I just thought I’ll drive this and hope it goes in.”
Not content to let Pachan have all the fun, Pentz scored Walsh’s next two goals. She ran down the right side and the field and fired it home in the 29th minute, making 4-1 at the half.
Walsh started the second half as quickly as the first. Forward Abby Witkiewicz corralled a cross in the box and laid off soft pass to Pentz, who blasted home from short range in the 41st minute.
“You know Hannah is going to show up for every game, but the pressure shouldn’t all be on her,” Pentz said. “This season, she’s carried a lot of the goals. In the playoffs, I think I’ve focused on that too.”
Iriart let his reserves in with 30 minutes left, but the Walsh bench bunch also found the net.
After a save in the Solon box, senior Faith Young smashed a high shot that bounced off the crossbar and over the line in the 65th minute.
This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: Walsh Jesuit High School girls soccer rolls, led by Hannah Pachan