LAKEWOOD RANCH -- Amanda Baar isn't supposed to score goals. That's not her role as a Lakewood Ranch defender.
But Baar proved that even defenders are versatile, when given the opportunity, during Wednesday's 3-1 victory over visiting Saint Stephen's.
Baar bagged all three Ranch goals as the Mustangs celebrated Senior Night, which meant the program's three seniors were allowed to play anywhere they wanted.
For Baar, that meant returning to a position she played at the club level.
"I asked (Tuesday) after practice," Baar said. "I asked if I could play, and they said, 'Sure.'"
With her wish granted, Baar wasted little time delivering up front.
Her first goal came just six minutes into the game as the Mustangs (14-1-4) began an offensive onslaught against a Saint Stephen's squad that was missing three key seniors, including goalkeeper Gabrielle Woodruff, defender/midfielder Christina Jones and forward Alexis Sedillo. Jones and Sedillo were out with an illness, while Woodruff was missing due to an injury. Her status for next week's district tournament has yet to be decided, head coach Eric Howell said.
Nonetheless, the Falcons (10-2-2) drew even with Ranch on a goal from senior Hannah Howell, who scored just seconds after Baar's opener.
Howell was given the ball following the restart at midfield, dribbled around a few Ranch defenders and launched a long-range effort on goal that was fumbled into the net in a play reminiscent of Robert Green's gaffe for England against the United States in the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
Undeterred, the Mustangs kept putting pressure on the Falcons for the remainder of the first half, and Baar was rewarded with a perfect pass from senior Taylor Young to complete a brace just 10 minutes after Howell's equalizer.
The hat trick was polished off late in the second half on a header from a corner kick.
"I've scored in club, but not really ever in high school," said Baar, who entered with two career goals at Ranch.
At first, though, Baar needed to adjust back to playing as a forward.
"I was confused when I was out there," said Baar, who is expected to return to her normal duties for the remainder of the season. "I was running around. I didn't know where to play. I got the hang of it after 10, 15 minutes."
Baar wasn't the only senior who starred for the Mustangs as Young and Chelsea Martin assisted on two of her goals. Sophomore Tyler Gordon had the other assist.
Saint Stephen's eighth-grader Kelsy Leskinen shined in Woodruff's absence, recording eight saves with several key stops in the second half to keep the game within reach for the Falcons.
"She parries the ball great," Eric Howell said. "She's a sneaky athlete there. I love her attitude. I said, 'Hey, are you ready to take over in goal?' She said, 'Coach, I was born ready.'"
Both teams are the No. 1 seeds in their respective district tournaments next week.