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West Albany High’s Bethanie Marteeny and Sienna Higinbotham spent the last 20 or so minutes of Thursday night’s Mid-Willamette Conference girls soccer showdown with South Albany on the bench.

Their work had been done by that point.

Higinbotham scored seven minutes in and then fed Marteeny for the Bulldogs’ second goal in the 21st minute as West went on to cruise to a 5-0 victory over the RedHawks.

The Bulldogs (7-1-2 overall) remained undefeated in MWC play at 3-0-1 while South dropped its first game of the season to fall to 8-1 overall and 3-1 in conference play.

Marteeny said she enjoyed watching her teammates find success.

“We were playing so well,” Martenny said. “This is the best our team has ever played. I had fun watching it. It was good to see.”

The Bulldogs took a 3-0 lead into the half when Morgan Linde controlled a rebound and went to the far post in the 35th minute.

The three first-half goals equaled the number the RedHawks had allowed all season.

“It was really important for us to start aggressive because South Albany, they’ve had a really great record, they’ve scored a ton of goals and so it was really important for us to start early and get the momentum going into halftime,” Marteeny said.

West was able to keep sustained pressure on South and controlled the possession throughout the first half to build the advantage.

“The last couple of games we’ve possessed as we’ve wanted and just have not finished as we have wanted,” West coach Erik Ihde said. “I said to the girls that rivalry games can be tough mentally, they can be tough to keep your composure when it comes time to score and that wasn’t a problem tonight. I though the girls were very composed and focused and it was an obviously great result.”

Marteeny said the Bulldogs have been working on maintaining possession.

“We’ve worked on it a lot in practice and on Tuesday in our North Salem game we had a lot of the same possession we just didn’t finish as well,” she said. “So it was really cool see it all come together.”

It was much of the same in the second half as Megan Miller (50th) and Chloe Washburn (61st) added to the scoring, making it five different players who scored.

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South Albany nearly broke the shutout when McKenna Platt sent a shot just wide in the 75th minute.

The RedHawks will look to get back on track when they head to Lebanon on Tuesday before a tough finishing stretch that sees them play at Corvallis, host Crescent Valley and travel to Silverton.

Ihde credits a tough nonleague schedule that included North Eugene to helping the Bulldogs be better prepared.

“I think that is paying off for us as we hit league in that we’ve seen some tough teams and have had to battle and I think it’s pushed us to get better,” Ihde said.

Marteeny said the Bulldogs feel good about the first half of conference play but they need to keep possessing the ball, finishing chances and playing solid defense — they haven’t allowed a goal in the last six games.

Thursday’s win sets the Bulldogs up nicely for the second half of league play, which sees them play the next three on the road — at Central, Silverton and Dallas — before closing out the season at home against Corvallis.

“I think that this team is fun to coach because we certainly have some talent but our team chemistry is off the charts right now and that’s something, it’s hard to purchase that,” Ihde said. “We’re playing good soccer, the team is as tight as it can be. I feel like any given day we can hang with any team.”

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Sports Editor

Sports editor of the Albany Democrat-Herald and Corvallis Gazette-Times