It's easy to pick out Jennie Marshall among the crowd of players on the field: She's the one usually running with an entourage.
It's rare when the Beyer High forward isn't surrounded by defenders — and for good reason.
She began Tuesday with a Sac-Joaquin Section-high 24 goals and raised it to 25 by scoring in the first half to send Beyer on its way to a 3-0 Modesto Metro Conference win over Downey.
That kept Beyer (12-2, 4-0 MMC) alone in first place and extended its scoring advantage over conference rivals to 18-2.
"It doesn't matter how well we play, (coach Stuart) Kaplan will be working us hard for the next game," said Marshall, headed to BYU on scholarship in the fall.
Kaplan's insistence that the Patriots maintain their focus came into play, as Marshall's goal was the lone tally as the final minutes of the match wound down.
Beyer's attackers remained in their lanes, forcing the Downey (2-6-1, 0-3-1) defenders to spread across the field, and that patience led to the two late goals.
Samantha Garcia skimmed a penalty kick into the left corner of the goal — after Marshall was taken down in front of the goal — then Ariell Nichols blasted a 25-yarder over the goalkeeper's head with three minutes remaining.
The penalty kick was the opposite of Nichols' shot, as Garcia softly put it inside the left pipe.
"I used to kick those as hard as I could, but I realized placement is more important than power," said Garcia, who has five goals and four assists. "If you shoot for the corner, it's difficult to stop."
Marshall led Beyer to the Division I section semifinals last season, where it lost to St. Mary's on penalty kicks. She feels just as good about this year's team.
"We were skeptical at first. We lost good players from last year, but the new girls stepped right in," said Marshall, whose club has lost to defending Division I champ Davis of Yolo and Division II runner-up Ponderosa. "We usually finish real strong, so it's good to see us playing this well right now."