SOUTH CHARLESTON - There was a bit of delay in turning on the lights at Trace Fork as dusk set in late in the second half in a game between George Washington and Cabell Midland on Thursday.
It didn't much matter for the home team - the light had already come on for the young Patriots.
GW, with one senior starter and six freshmen logging heavy minutes, appeared to put an up-and-down start to the season behind it, at least for one night, as it exploded for five goals and rolled 2017 state champion Cabell Midland.
The Knights, with two-time state player of the year Emilie Charles, figure to be among the state's elite again and came into Thursday undefeated. But the Patriots, who have struggled at times offensively over the past couple of seasons, used a formation adjustment and some stellar play from a trio of forwards to blitz the Knights and set the tone early.
"We moved the personnel," GW coach Ali Sadeghian said. "This is our fifth game and we've played five different formations and people in different positions. We're just trying to find a good formation and positions that everyone can play. I think everyone like that today and hopefully we'll build on that as the season goes on and get better."
Junior Kalissa Lacy, sophomore Linsey Hackney and freshman Ava Tretheway combined to score all of GW's goals with Lacy and Hackney scoring two apiece.
Lacy assisted on Hackney's first goal just 1:56 into the game to give the Patriots an early lead.
The match was back-and-forth early with Charles tying it 1-1 at the 29:11 mark on a breakaway goal.
The Knights (4-1-1) seemed to tip momentum at that point, controlling possession and missing on a couple of opportunities. But GW turned the tides quickly. After being awarded a corner kick, Hackney placed a ball into the box and Lacy headed it in at the 20:50 mark to put GW back in front to stay.
That was the first of two times the Hackney-to-Lacy corner paid off with Lacy scoring the second half's lone goal with 15:19 remaining to provide the final margin.
"Ali has been yelling at me a lot to use my forehead," Lacy said. "In practice we've been working too, and I just used my forehead to get it down. He calls it, 'the flick' to get it in the goal."
Just 41 seconds later, Hackney tucked a free kick just under the crossbar to suddenly put GW up 3-1. That gap became 4-1 with 3:13 left in the first half as Tretheway cleaned up a rebound on her own shot. The freshman and younger brother of GW boys soccer standout Max Tretheway, flashed some serious speed and playmaking ability at the front of the Patriots attack on Thursday and the chemistry among Lacy, Hackney and her was pivotal.
"I usually put Tretheway in the midfield and she does a great job at that," Sadeghian said. "Those three together and the way they played, they complement each other really well."
Midland came up with a second goal with just 48 seconds remaining as Elisabeth Dick found the net off of a rebound from a Charles miss. It could've stolen momentum heading into the second half, but GW settled in and maintained possession, outshooting the Knights 11-5 after the break.
If losses to Parkersburg and Morgantown took confidence away from the youthful Patriots, most agree that it is back in a big way moving forward from Thursday.
"After playing tonight, personally I have more confidence in how I'm going to play for the rest of the season and as a team I think we did amazing, this was the best game we've played this season," Hackney said. "We were really getting down on ourselves and beating ourselves up and now I think it's going to be a better season than we thought coming in in the preseason. We were going to be young and we still are, but now I think after this win it's going to be a much better season."
Mary Lyle Smith made 10 saves for the Patriots. Smith, a junior, missed all of last season with a knee injury, forcing the now-graduated Katy Darnell into the goal and taking some scoring punch away from the Patriots. Hackney and Lacy are two of only four returning starters on GW's roster.
Ellaina Hess made nine saves for the Knights. GW had 11 corner kicks to Midland's two, held a 23-17 advantage in shots and placed 14 of them on goal.