Mattie Cutts trotted over to the Pine Creek sideline shortly after her second goal in a 1-minute, 50-second span had given the No. 3 Eagles a two-goal lead against No. 30 Brighton on Tuesday night at District 20 Stadium.
As her Pine Creek teammates roared and cheered, Eagles' leading-scorer Ally Watt walked over to her longtime friend and hugged Cutts, whose two first-half goals propelled Pine Creek to a 4-0 victory in the first round of the Class 5A state playoffs.
"It is just great to see her accomplish that after being in a slump; she was getting assists and was always so close," Watt said.
The Eagles (13-2-1) were playing without Watt while the junior finishes her track season before returning to the soccer field. Regardless, Pine Creek demonstrated its overall depth, as Cutts, Jennifer Kahle and Jayne Lydiatt scored to send the Eagles past Brighton (8-8) into Friday's second-round matchup against No. 14 Grandview.
Despite scoring only once in her previous 15 games, the night started with Cutts.
Teammate Natasha Wehner sprinted down the right sideline 9:41 into the game and crossed the ball to Cutts, who hammered the ball for an early 1-0 lead.
A little under two minutes later, the midfielder received a drop pass from Reece Hummel and drilled a shot into the right corner to double the Pine Creek lead with 28:19 left in the half.
"It was mostly I just got set up well with Reece playing back to me, and also Natasha just playing it in to me," Cutts said. "It was just one of those things where I was in the right place."
On the sidelines, Pine Creek coach John Frederick pointed at Cutts and said, "I told you so."
"I told her this is going to be your breakout game before the game started," Frederick said. "She has been so close and she is one of those players that when she feels it she is on."
Brighton was overmatched by Cutts and the Eagles, as halfway through the first half coach Gonzalo Godinez Luna's Bulldogs - missing three top players - looked exhausted.
"They know their field very well and have a couple key players that can make an impact," Luna said.
Kahle scored a little under six minutes following Cutts' second tally to give Pine Creek a 3-0 lead at the half.
Hummel again used her dribbling skills along the sidelines to earn her second assist of the game when she set up Lydiatt's goal that gave Pine Creek the 4-0 lead.
The Eagles have won six straight opening-round playoff games.
"We just came ready for this game," Cutts said. "Our coach has been preparing us not to take anything for granted."