MISSOULA — Her name conjures up images of a majestic Spanish ship, but Hannah Santamaria moves more like a speed boat.
Not that watercraft had anything to do with her heroics Tuesday. The super sophomore worked her magic on land and through smoke in the first crosstown soccer match of the year on Missoula Big Sky's sun-scorched pitch.
Santamaria scored the Eagles' first goal, assisted on their last and generally caused Missoula Hellgate fits in a 3-1 home win. The Knights gained a measure of revenge in the boys' game, rolling past Big Sky, 14-0.
A track sprinter in the spring, Hannah is a tough girl to keep tabs on when she goes into striker mode.
"I love playing no matter what," she said, alluding to dirty air that burned the eyes Tuesday.
No one was more happy with the outcome of the girls' game than Eagles first-year coach Courtney Shields, whose emphasis on conditioning paid off on a sweltering afternoon.
"They just played so hard and beautifully," said the former Montana Grizzly soccer player, who welcomed back eight starters this season. "They came out intense and ready to play.
"The crosstown rivalry gets them a little nervous but they all showed up and just absolutely played together as a team. They played a strong 80 minutes."
Santamaria set the tone less than 8 minutes in when she broke free on the left flank and rolled the ball past Hellgate keeper Kine Stimac in the lower left corner. She nearly scored again in the 15th and 26th minutes but Stimac made strong saves.
The Eagles boosted their lead to 2-0 on TiLynn McGreevey's heads-up play in the 35th minute. A shot by one of her teammates rebounded back toward the junior and she kicked it into the net from close range.
Big Sky's third goal also came on a heads-up play. Santamaria fired a shot toward the goal from the right flank and when it rolled past the goal to the left flank, sophomore Gianna Migliaccio was there to hammer it home in the 38th minute.
Andi Carnes found the net for Hellgate in the 58th minute but Big Sky freshman keeper Grace Denman shut down the Knights from there.
"We have a lot of new varsity players that haven't had much time together as a team, so we came out a little timid," said Hellgate coach Ian Marshall, who has seven newcomers in his starting lineup. "We played much better the second half but credit to Big Sky. They came out to play but I'm proud of how we turned it around in the second half."
The boys' game was a showcase of Hellgate's offensive arsenal. The two-time defending State AA champs jumped on the inexperienced Eagles for seven goals in the first half.
"They had a little bit of everything," Hellgate coach Jay Anderson said of his deep and talented squad. "They possessed the ball really well out of the back and in the midfield. We were able to vary our offense up, attacking through the middle but also getting it wide and getting the balls in.
"To Big Sky's credit, they're a young team and I know they had trouble getting players out, so credit to them for never giving up and working really hard with the guys they had available for today."
Junior Cole Hage, who scored the game-winning goal in last year's state final, tallied Hellgate's first three goals and finished with four. Sophomore Dane Becker came off the bench to score three.
Hellgate piled up 42 shots to Big Sky's one. The Eagles' hero was senior keeper Devin Jacaruso, who made 23 saves.
With a 14-goal performance to start the season, the question begged to be asked: Are the Knights even better this year?
"It's still to be determined how good they are," Anderson said. "We'll have a very hard test on Saturday against Sentinel."
That match is scheduled at 10 a.m. at the Rattlesnake Fields. The Knights beat the Spartans in last year's state final, 3-2, in Kalispell.