Golden Valley's Emily Perez (12) shoots against Lancaster at Golden Valley on Thursday. 120116 Dan Watson/The Signal
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Golden Valley forward Kiara Gunn secured a contested pass deep in the Grizzlies’ attacking third and directed a shot around the charging Lancaster High goalkeeper.

The ball rolled toward the net before a defender slid in and booted it out of harm’s way.

Then a whistle. The ball had already crossed the goal line.

Stopping Gunn has been mostly impossible through three games as she tallied her seventh, eighth and ninth goals of the young season Thursday at Golden Valley in a 7-0 non-league win.

“I was working really hard over the offseason,” said Gunn, a senior. “But I wasn’t expecting this many goals.”

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Gunn scored six times Monday in a 6-2 win over Highland of Palmdale.

Then the Grizzlies (2-0-1) tied Antelope Valley, 0-0, on Tuesday. But it proved to be just a pit stop between offensive onslaughts as the Grizzlies stormed out to six first-half goals Thursday.

“I think the tie Tuesday was a wake-up call,” Gunn said.

Golden Valley's Kiara Gunn's (4) shot is blocked by Lancaster goalkeeper Vanessa Salazar in the second half at Golden Valley on Thursday. Dan Watson/The Signal
Golden Valley’s Kiara Gunn’s (4) shot is blocked by Lancaster goalkeeper Vanessa Salazar in the second half at Golden Valley on Thursday. Dan Watson/The Signal

Lancaster got the Grizzlies’ full attention.

Golden Valley controlled the game from the outset. Gunn scored nine minutes in, and her team led 4-0 by the 20th minute.

The Grizzlies outshot Lancaster 12-3 before halftime and 22-7 for the game.

Lia Hernandez sent a beautiful cross to Emily Perez in the 15th minute, and Perez stopped it on a dime before sending it into the net.

It was the first of two goals for Perez. She also had three assists, the last of which went to Hernandez, who scored the Grizzlies’ seventh goal.

“You get a goal in and you feel really pumped up,” Perez said, “and you feel you’re a part of the team by scoring a goal.”

Perez, an All-Foothill League honorable mention player last year as a freshman, may be the league’s most-skilled midfielder as a sophomore. She and teammate Marylin Cabrera completely controlled that part of the field Thursday, while a back line led by Ashley Rens turned the Eagles (1-1) away again and again.

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Mason Nesbitt
Mason Nesbitt is The Santa Clarita Valley Signal's Sports Editor.
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