The fact Mary Maloney's first collegiate goal came off an assist from Maddie Bauer shouldn't come as much of a surprise.
The two have a history of making goals happen.
Maloney and Bauer, freshmen on the Quincy University women's soccer team, played together at St. Dominic High School in O'Fallon, Mo., leading the Crusaders to 81 victories during their prep careers. Both players earned all-state honors as well.
Friday night, they showed why QU coach Dave Musso coveted them as recruits.
Bauer and Maloney came off the bench midway through the first half against Truman State, and Bauer, a forward, slid a pass to Maloney, a midfielder, while driving into the penalty area that led to a one-touch goal and a 1-0 lead. The Hawks ultimately won 2-0 in the Great Lakes Valley Conference opener to improve to 3-0.
"I guess we felt it," Maloney said. "We knew it was happening. It felt great."
As Maloney pointed out, Bauer's pass was right on the money.
"Perfect," Maloney said. "I could not have done it without her."
It's the kind of connection Musso hoped to see.
"They're high-level players," he said. "We're fortunate to be deep and have them coming off the bench."
Megan Swanson couldn't relax. She didn't have to fret, either.
The QU senior goalkeeper wasn't put to the test by Truman State as the Bulldogs were held without a shot in the first half and managed just two shots overall. Neither shot tested Swanson, who has opened the season with three straight shutouts.
It's the combination of an experienced defense and a determination by the entire to not concede that has led to the success defensively.
"It all starts with our midfielders and forwards pressing the ball and taking away their offense," Musso said. "If the ball even gets to our back four, they're clearing the ball out. It starts with our center mids being ball winners. They were relentless today. They were on a mission."
And on the rare occasion QU didn't win a ball in the midfield, the back line -- seniors Bailey Gruebel, Allison Birke and Natalie Quisenberry and junior Gabby Orlando -- kept the play in front of them.
"Our back line is amazing," Maloney said. "Their are communicating constantly. It helps a ton when I go back from attacking to a defensive mid. They are telling me when to ste, always giving me communication. It's a huge part of our success that we are so talkative and helpful and willing to do anything for each other."
There's a huge level of trust from front to back.
"We're defending awesome as a unit," sophomore midfielder Mo Rooney said. "Sometimes it's hectic going from the front to the back, but we're all working together," Rooney said. "So it's making our job easier, which is making everyone else's job easier. Things are going well."
Attacking middle in
The Hawks have five goals so far this season with four coming from its attacking midfielders.
Maloney and senior midfielder Katie Heiligenstein scored against Truman State, and Heiligenstein leads the team with two goals. Sophomore midfielder Alex Severino also has a goal.
"Our forwards are going to get some," Musso said. "But by our forwards going at them, it leaves space in the middle for our attacking center mids to come in, and look at what they did."