The Pope John Paul II High School girls’ soccer team kicked off its 2016 season Sept. 2 by hosting and blanking local rival Pottstown, 8-0.

“It was a total team effort,” said Pope John Paul II head coach Stew Sherk.

It turned out to be an especially great day for junior forward and co-captain Kayla Mesaros who finished with a total of six goals on the afternoon.

“Kayla was amazing,” said Sherk. “We were able to control in the midfield and keep the passes simple.”

It did not take long for the Golden Panthers’ offense to get moving. Mesaros tallied her first goal just six minutes into the game. Junior midfielder Carson Tracy provided the assist.

Mesaros added her second goal within another minute, and five minutes later, she completed her hat trick.

Pope John Paul II had to compete with a tough Pottstown defense and goalkeeper, so as the first period progressed, the team did not have as many scoring chances as it had earlier.

Nevertheless Mesaros managed to extend her sprint to 4-0 and Tracy found the net off a feed by Mesaros with 17:30 to play in the opening half.

“We started off strong,” said Mesaros. “There were great passes from my teammates and that helped us settle into the game.”

Following a 10-minute stretch time, Pope John Paul II simply picked up from where it left off. Mesaros registered her fifth goal of the game just two minutes into the new stanza before she eventually accounted for her sixth.

Throughout the second half, several players came off the bench to contribute including some from the junior varsity squad. Sophomore forward Julie Cherneskie came in and scored. Late in regulation, freshman goalkeeper Anastasia Kormos replaced junior Colleen Morton. Kormos stopped two shots as her team continued to play hard until the final whistle and the Golden Panthers emerged victorious.

“We just regrouped at halftime and made sure we stayed focused in the second half,” said Mesaros.

Morton and Kormos combined for a strong effort defending their net.

“I think Anastasia did really well for her first varsity game,” said Morton. “She had two amazing saves. You have to stay in the game at all times and believe.”

The goalkeepers also received plenty of support from their teammates on defense, senior and co-captain Kendal Piazza, sophomore Maddie D’Elia as well as juniors Madison McNamara, Hailey Miller and Monica Rapchinski.

“Defense played well,” said Sherk. “We have some room for improvement. Communication has gotten better.”

The Golden Panthers hit the road next week to take on Lansdale Catholic on Tuesday, Sept. 13 at 4 p.m.