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Strong second half leads Eagles over Knights

by Joshua Spaulding
Sports Editor - Granite State News, Carroll County Independent, Meredith News, Gilford Steamer, Winnisquam Echo, Plymouth Record-Enterprise and Baysider

KINGSWOOD'S ABBY DUBEL (left) and Kennett's Brooke Lemerise battle for a loose ball in action Sept. 11 in Wolfeboro. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
September 16, 2013
WOLFEBORO — When the first matchup of the season between the Kennett and Kingswood field hockey teams was over on Wednesday afternoon, Sept. 11, there were two very different views of what had gone on.

Kennett coach CJ Lang was pleased with her team's aggressive approach in the second half, an approach that led to three goals and an eventual 4-0 win.

Kingswood coach Kaitlin Reilly was not impressed with her team's effort and noted he girls would have plenty of stuff to work on before the next game.

"We've got a lot to work on," Reilly said. "It was a show highlighting things we need to deal with.

"But it's early enough in the season to rebound from this," Reilly continued. "And that's just what we're going to do."

"Two shutouts in a big week is a good thing," Lang said, referencing her team's 1-0 win over Merrimack Valley two days earlier. "They all played really well."

While Kennett was able to control the pace of play for much of the first half, there was no advantage on the scoreboard for either team.

Amanda Nusbaum, Vonde Saunders, Brooke Lemerise and Maggie LaRoche led the initial offensive attack for the Eagles, but the Knights didn't back down, as Rachel Lapar led the Kingswood squad in the defensive zone, stepping up to keep shots away from keeper Sara Hughes.

Kingswood's best early chance came off the stick of Mikayla Osgood, but the defense of Emily Richard kept the ball from reaching the net. Osgood had another chance stopped by Rachel Samia. Rachael Steensma and Emma Danais also continued the pressure for Kingswood, with Nusbaum chipping with with a solid defensive effort.

Kennett got a good look from Robyn Coffield that went just wide and on a penalty corner, Nusbaum's shot also went wide of the net. Meghan Hayman also got in close, only to have Hughes reject her shot on the net.

Kingswood was able to generate some more offensive pressure, with Osgood, Abby Dubel, Keely Rodgers and Kayla McEvoy working in the offensive zone, but the shot went wide of the net. Leah Kelemen stepped up with a strong defensive play for the Eagles as well, clearing the ball away.

Saunders had another good look in the zone that Kingswood was able to turn away, but the Eagles were finally able to break through with five minutes to go in the first half.

Nusbaum fired the ball in toward the net, where LaRoche was waiting and she pounced, putting it past Hughes for a 1-0 lead for the Eagles.

Dubel had an offensive charge for the Knights denied by Samia, while Julia St. Germain had a strong defensive stand to help close out the half and the two teams went to the break with the Eagles up 1-0.

"The heat got the girls a little in the first half," Lang said. "But we condition and this is why we condition."

Kennett charged out of the gate in the opening moments of the second half, with Lemerise and LaRoche getting great chances in close.

However, it was Saunders who got the Eagles back on the board, as she ripped a shot through traffic and into the cage for a 2-0 lead for the Eagle.

Kennett continued to pressure, with LaRoche leading the way, though Lapar turned in solid defense for the Knights and Hughes turned away a shot by Arielle Seavey. Raistlin Bittues and Zoe Reed also chipped in with strong defense for the Knights.

Kennett had a couple of penalty corners in a row midway through the half, with Hughes making a nice save on Saunders on one and Gwynn McGinley's rebound going wide. The next saw Nusbaum's shot deflected wide.

Lapar had Kingswood's best chance of the second half deflected wide and the Eagles came right back, forcing Bittues and St. Germain to turn in strong defensive plays.

With 10 minutes to play, the Eagles upped the lead to 3-0, as LaRoche tipped in a shot from Coffield.

Four minutes later, Katie McPherson upped the lead to 4-0 when she fired home a shot off a corner and the Eagles were well on their way to the win.

The Eagles had four more corner chances down the stretch, with Lemerise, Marissa Harmon and LaRoche getting looks, but Hughes held her ground and kept the ball out of the net the rest of the way.

Reilly knew many of the things her team would be working on in upcoming practices.

"Recognizing where the open space is and scoring is kind of needed," she said. "Our offensive 25 needs to be worked on."

She noted that rebounding from the loss would be key, but she believes her team can do it.

"This is a dedicated enough group of girls that they'll work at it," Reilly stated. "They don't want this to happen again."

She pointed out that the players were already upset about the game just moments after it ended, so she expects it to get better.

"The next time we meet Kennett will be a better fight," Reilly said.

"In the second half, we definitely played a lot stronger," Lang said of her crew. "They came out not wanting to go to overtime."

She also remembered a year earlier in Wolfeboro, when the Knights rallied to beat the Eagles in overtime.

"Last year in this game, we let up," Lang said. "They can never let up.

"They did a good job playing together," she continued. "And we got a lot of kids in a lot of different spots, so it's good to see the versatility."

Kennett also defeated Merrimack Valley 1-0 on Monday, Sept. 9, while Kingswood dropped a 3-2 decision to St. Thomas the same day. Kingswood's game with Oyster River on Friday, Sept. 13, was postponed by rain, with a makeup date to be determined.

Kennett played at Berlin's Homecoming on Saturday and dropped a 2-0 decision. The hosts controlled much of the first half and had a 14-4 advantage in shots in the first 30 minutes, but there was no score, as keeper Lara Mernyk was solid and Nusbaum and Emily Richard turned in solid defensive plays.

Berlin scored with 27:26 to go in the game, but Kennett bounced right back with chances off penalty corners. However, Berlin scored again with 10:52 to go to seal the win.

Kennett will be back in action today, Sept. 19, at 4 p.m. at Plymouth and will be at home on Tuesday, Sept. 24, at 4 p.m. to take on Laconia.

Kingswood will be back in action today as well, as they will be at Portsmouth at 5:30 p.m. and will be at Hollis-Brookline at 4 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 23. The Eagles are back home on Tuesday, Sept. 24, to take on St. Thomas at 4 p.m.

Joshua Spaulding can be reached at 569-3126 or sportsgsn@salmonpress.com.

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