ARLINGTON >> Coming back from an injury, Arlington freshman soccer player Tess Belnap has been on a graduated schedule, only playing a handful of minutes each game and ratcheting up every time out.
Imagine what she can do with no restrictions.
Belnap scored three times and added an assist as the Eagles shut out Black River, 4-0 on Tuesday night at Werner Field.
"Tess is an exceptional player. It's been an adjustment, it throws a wrench in when you are throwing a player back on the field, especially one of your best," said Arlington coach Aaron Wood. "She's a high quality player, one of the best in the state in our division, and we need her to keep doing what she's doing, sticking the ball in the back of the net."
Belnap got the scoring started with an assist early on as her indirect kick found the foot of Xandria Hoyt, who blasted it home for a 1-0 lead.
Then with five minutes left in the first half, Belnap made a strong run right through the middle of the Black River defense and fired a shot past the goalkeeper to double the advantage shortly before the break.
Earlier this season, the Eagles and Presidents tied at 0-0, a game that Arlington dominated but couldn't find the back of the net.
"We were able to finish tonight," Wood said. "We outshot them up there, but couldn't finish. Tonight we started the same way, but once we got one in, the floodgates opened up."
The Presidents nearly cut the lead in half about six minutes into the second half on a strong run to goal, but the shot went off the crossbar and over the goal. Two minutes later, Belnap took a perfectly placed feed from Haley Mattison and one-timed it into the net to extend the lead.
"She does a good job distributing, not taking it all herself all the time, sometimes she does, sometimes she doesn't," Wood said.
Arlington goalie Shaana Staab had seven saves in the second half, including one from point-blank range with 12 minutes to go to keep the clean sheet for the Eagles. Another big part of that came from senior stopper Riley Lane, who Wood said was all over the field and making things tougher for the Black River forwards.
"Shaana played a great game in goal, especially the second half," Wood said. "She was coming out, clearing balls [off the line], it was really good."
Belnap and Mattison hooked up again with four minutes to go to seal it and get the hat trick.
"I thought the ball movement was good tonight, passing the ball and the build up play in the middle was really good," Wood said. "Now we play Long Trail [Thursday] and it's a big game for us, they beat us [3-2 in the John Werner Tournament]."