HOSCHTON -- With a 1-0 lead early in the game for Mill Creek, Dacula and Hawks girls seemed as even as last year's penalty-kick showdown.
The Falcons nearly tied the early-season soccer game in the 17th minute but a save by Mill Creek keeper Rachel Allred, diving to her right, thwarted the equalizer.
"That was the difference in the game," Mill Creek head coach Brent Leitsch said. "That was really the turning point in the game because if it had gone 1-1 it would have been anybody's game."
After the save, Lauren Tanner took over.
Exactly midway through the first half, the Georgia-bound senior took a pass near midfield and dribbled past and through the entire Dacula defense. She tapped the ball through two defenders near the 18-yard mark, then skipped it beyond the Falcons' keeper before easily slapping the ball into the net.
The goal was the first of two for Tanner and it propelled the Hawks to a 4-0 win over Dacula.
"I am just kind of kicking it as I go, mentally focusing on the ball and focusing on getting to the goal," Tanner said of her first goal. "It's just a matter of keeping my head down, focusing on the ball and not thinking about losing it at all.
"I watch some videos of (Lionel) Messi and some of the greatest players and I just try to mimic what they do. I feel like, 'Why not try it?'"
The goal made it 2-0 and sparked the Hawks to the lopsided win. Dacula managed just two shots the rest of the half and very few more in the game.
"When you do something like that it puts it in the defenders' minds that, 'What are we going to do now?'" Tanner said. "It kind of scares them and it set a spiral effect for us."
Tanner added her second goal 13 minutes later on a bending shot from outside the 18 that ricocheted off the hands of the Dacula goalie and kept curving into the net. Tanner has scored two goals in all four of Mill Creek's wins this season.
"She's doing it when every team knows they have to stop her," Leitsch said. "What's better is we are getting others involved. That's what great to see. We are starting to see other people score and that's what will make us tough to beat."
The Hawks first goal came from Cierra Tataw who cleaned up at the net after a Tanner assists and Ellie Bowes scored the fourth goal in the 53rd minute to squelch any idea of a Dacula comeback.
It was the third straight clean sheet for Allred, who was playing through a lingering illness.
"We shut them down," Tanner said. "Rachel coming out and playing sick, she played awesome. She played fantastic."
And it's always nice to beat Dacula, if you're a Hawk.
"We always want to put a good beating on them," Tanner said, noting last year's loss in penalty kicks. "We wanted to come out and definitely give it to them."
Mill Creek boys 5, Dacula 1
Mill Creek scored goals on three different free kicks in the first half on their way to a 5-1 win over Dacula.
Diego Manrique scored one of the goals and delivered a beautiful assist on another. The assist from 25-yards out on the right side found the head of Tyler Moody. Cody Jones scored the first goal, placing a free kick from the left side over the head of the Dacula goalie and into the back corner of the net.
The three first-half goals all came after Dacula took a 1-0 lead on a goal by Javion Joseph off a pass from Joe Efford.
Moody added his second goal on a corner kick from Manrique early in the second half. Josh Arceneaux also scored a goal for the Hawks.