When McKenzie Duncan took a break and came off the field during the second half of Branson’s soccer game against Mountain View-Birch Tree Liberty on Tuesday night, she was congratulated by coach Brandon Scott.
Her reaction was priceless: “For what?”
Scott informed her she had broken the school’s record for goals in a game.
“I was like, ‘Oh yeah, thanks!” Duncan said.
Duncan later returned to the game and added to her record haul, finishing with six goals in the Lady Pirates’ 8-1 victory.
“That was genuine,” Scott said. “She didn’t really know – and didn’t care. She was worried about winning the game and putting the team in the best position. That’s pretty humbling to watch.”
The six-goal effort shattered the school record of four, shared by Duncan and Hailey Lacroix and set during the 2015 season.
It was part of a dominant team effort and left Duncan quick to share the credit.
“It’s awesome to get that record, but I couldn’t do anything without the rest of my team,” she said. “Everybody from Lauren (Garrison) being a stud goalie back there to the defense keeping it out, and everyone on the outside passing it around.
“I couldn’t have done it without my team.”
Branson improved to 4-0, following up the championship at the Fair Grove Invitational last weekend with the dominant victory on Tuesday.
For Duncan, it was just building on big moments for her senior season and career.
The Palm Beach Atlantic signee already holds school records for career goals (45 entering this season), and through four games this season, she has 11 goals. The Branson single-season record is 24, set by Lacroix in 2015.
“If she keeps doing that, she’ll have a big target on her back,” Scott said. “I know she thrives under that kind of pressure.”
Freshman Molly Duncan – McKenzie’s sister – opened the scoring, cleaning up on the doorstep after the Liberty goalkeeper deflected a Branson shot.
That came just 1:28 into the game, and was followed less than three minutes later by a McKenzie Duncan strike from 20 yards out for a 2-0 Branson lead.
McKenzie Duncan hit the crossbar on a prime scoring chance at the midway point of the first half, then struck for her second goal of the game 90 seconds later, finding an open spot and scoring from about 5 yards out.
Liberty hit the scoreboard with 2:10 to play before the half, ending a Branson shutout streak that had reached nearly 278 minutes of playing time to start the season.
“We put two goals in during the first five minutes, and then I think we took a deep breath,” Scott said. “We got a little complacent and they snuck one in on us.
“We refocused at halftime and came back pretty well.”
The second half was all Branson – and all McKenzie Duncan.
She scored from 25 yards out on the right side less than five minutes into the half, then struck from 20 yards out in the middle of the field about three minutes later. The record-setting goal came less than 14 minutes into the half when she scored from 15 yards out.
Her final goal came less than a minute later, when she beat the keeper on a one-on-one move and tapped in a goal from about 5 feet out.
The final Branson goal came with 11:29 to play, when Josie Michel broke free down the left side of the field and beat the Liberty keeper on the short side.
Garrison put the capper on the victory with a nice save on a shot from 10 yards out and four minutes to play. She finished with eight saves.
As if McKenzie Duncan’s offensive fireworks weren’t enough, Branson also has Molly Duncan as an emerging threat. Molly Duncan has four goals and an assist in her first four varsity games.
“I love my sister, she’s my best friend,” McKenzie Duncan said. “It’s super-exciting to get to play with her for this one year.
“She’s amazing. It’s really good to be on the field with her.”