MADISON TOWNSHIP — The goal Taylor Huff was most excited about was the one she didn’t score.
The first Richland Bank Athlete of the Week for the 2019-20 school year, Huff scored two goals and assisted on another in Madison’s season-opening 3-1 win over Clear Fork.
Madison trailed for most of the first half before Huff scored an unassisted goal less than 30 seconds before halftime. She would find teammate Mariah Cook for what proved to be the game-winner midway through the second half — sparking an enthusiastic celebration that saw Huff leap to embrace the sophomore midfielder.
“At her best she would rather pass the ball to Mariah or anyone on the field and get the assist and have them score the goal,” said Huff’s father and Madison coach Zac Huff. “It’s not about her scoring all the goals.
“She was all excited about it, for sure.”
The younger Huff added an insurance goal with 13:52 remaining, giving her 67 career goals in 45 matches. She has 41 career assists.
“You always want to be right by her,” said Cook, who scored her second career goal. “You know she’ll pass you the ball … and she’ll always be positive, even when we’re down.
“She’s a great captain and she’s always there for you. She always knows what to say and how to help.”
A two-time All-American, Huff has tormented Clear Fork throughout her career. In three games, she’s scored six goals against the Colts.
“We tried four different people on her,” Clear Fork coach Brittany Bechtel said. “I finally found a good match, but it takes a lot of shifting.
“We knew she was our battle and we felt like in the first half she was the one who really drove their game.”
The Rams reached the Division II state semifinals two years ago and fell in the regional semifinals last fall. With Huff the centerpiece of a talented and veteran side, expectations are again soaring on Esley Lane.
“Our expectations are high,” Zac Huff said. “We didn’t play like it tonight, but we got the victory.”
Madison’s early struggles are a testament to Clear Fork, Taylor Huff said.
“They had more energy than us and more effort,” Taylor Huff said. “They were winning every 50-50 ball. We were under so much pressure and that’s a credit to them.”
The Rams return to action Thursday at Mount Vernon.
“We’ve got a lot to work on,” Zac Huff said. “These girls are up to the task.”