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Knight stick girls get the best of Eagles

KENNETT’S KELSEA ALLEN and Kingswood’s April McCarriston battle along the sidelines during action Sept. 29 at The Nick. Kathy Sutherland. (click for larger version)
October 07, 2009
WOLFEBORO — Kingswood and Kennett traditionally put on some of the fiercest battles in Class I field hockey.

Each time the two teams meet, no matter what the fortunes of either team, it is sure to be a game to be seen. This year has been no exception.

Back on Sept. 4, the two teams played to a scoreless tie in North Conway and on Tuesday, Sept. 29, the Eagles visited Wolfeboro where the Knights came away with a hard-fought 3-2 win over their county rivals.

The Knights wasted no time in taking the lead on their home field, as they drove down the field, and Miranda Clark put the ball past Kennett keeper Faye Roberts within the first minute of play.

Kennett came right back and moved the ball down the field in the other direction, but the Kingswood defense and keeper Renee Bernier held the ground and didn't allow the tying goal to find the net.

And it didn't take the Knights long to double their lead, as less than five minutes in, Sasha McCormick drilled in the Knights' second goal of the game and Kingswood was off to a 2-0 lead.

Kingswood continued to control the pace of the game, keeping the ball in their offensive end for a while, but eventually, the Eagles were able to pull the ball out from in front of their goal and move it up the field.

Bernier made a save on a Kennett penalty corner chance, but a second corner went better for the Eagles, as Sam Meader banged home the ball with less than 14 minutes remaining in the first half.

The goal seemed to spark the Eagles a bit, as they came out and went right back into the zone, forcing Bernier to make a couple of saves.

And with just more than seven minutes to play in the contest, the Eagles completed their comeback, tying the game at two on a goal by Vicky Weigold, who was returning to the lineup after missing extensive time due to illness.

Kennett continued to pressure but Bernier was up to the task, turning away a couple of chances and the Knights were able to get a few shots in on Roberts before the half drew to a close and the rain settled in over The Nick.

Kingswood came in with pressure early, but the Eagles responded with some of their own. The two teams went back and forth with the pressure, with Kennett sending the ball through the crease and the Knights getting a good corner opportunity.

Bernier made perhaps the save of the day, diving after a loose ball and teammate Erin Maguire turned in a solid defensive play to keep Kennett from charging too much.

Abby Gutowski and Elyce Clancy had a good chance for Kennett, but the ball was tipped wide off Clancy's stick, while at the other end, it was McCormick charging in for Kingswood, only to be denied by the Kennett defense.

And it was McCormick who provided the difference with just minutes to go in the contest, as she scored after a Kingswood penalty corner to give the host Knights a 3-2 lead.

Kennett came right back and tried to tie the game with some good scoring chances, but the Eagles couldn't find the net and the Knights held on for the win.

While she was not exactly pleased that her team gave up a two-goal lead, Kingswood coach Kaitlin Riley praised the Knights' resiliency in fighting back.

"The important thing was they were able to get it back when they needed to in order to get where we wanted," Riley said. "At this point in the season, we need to do that and it's great that they proved to themselves they can do it against a very good opponent."

She noted that the Knights also learned that celebrating an early lead can lead to the other team getting back into the contest and against good teams, that can come back to bite a squad.

"The hardest part is mentally keeping your game plan even when rattled," Riley said. "It's a big deal when you can do that against Kennett."

For Kennett coach Ivy Ward-Spencer, the heartbreak was in the two early goals that were her team's downfall.

"We never should've let those two goals in," she said.

The first-year head coach was happy that her team was able to rally back, but noticed that they never really picked it up in the second half in order to get the lead.

"I think one thing that happened was after we scored the first and even the second goal, we kind of held the ball and pushed it in their end and couldn't get over the hump," she said. "We need to come out at the beginning of the game and not give up the early goals that put is in a hole."

Following the game, the Knights played host to the Eagles under the pavilion at The Nick, providing sandwiches, snacks and drinks to the visitors.

"We're opponents on the field, but we like to take care of them and want to support them in all they're going through this year," said Riley, pointing to the loss of coach Deryl Fleming as a tough road for everyone.

More Eagles

The Eagles traveled to St. Thomas on Thursday, Oct. 1, and despite giving up just one goal to a talented Saints team, walked away with a tough 1-0 loss.

Next up on the docket for the Eagles is a Homecoming matchup with Plymouth at 4:15 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 9. The girls will host Portsmouth in their final regular season home game on Tuesday, Oct. 13, at 3:30 p.m.

More Knights

For Kingswood, it was about as good a week as could be expected, as the Knights followed up their win over Kennett with a tie at Lebanon on Wednesday, Sept. 30, and a 2-0 Homecoming win over Plymouth on Friday, Oct. 2.

With all the hype surrounding Homecoming Week at Kingswood, Riley knew that many of her kids would have a lot of irons in the fire, serving on the various committees that helped to organize school events.

"We tried to channel that emotion in a calm, poised, competitive way, and they were able to do that," she said. "They knew if they could take the lead (against Plymouth) they could get in the flow of things."

And take the lead is just what the Knights did, scoring early on their way to the 2-0 win, their second win over a regional rival in four days.

"It was very impressive to see their focus able to carry over on the field hockey field," Riley pointed out. "We fell apart a little in the second half and gave up a ton of corners, but we were able to hang in there."

Against Lebanon, the Knights came back to tie the game in the second half and battled through two overtimes before settling for a 1-1 tie.

"That was a really competitive game," said the Knight mentor. "They weren't satisfied walking away with a tie, but they were pleased we were able to come back from behind because that's something we've struggled with."

The Knights have just one game remaining on the regular season schedule, as they head to Plymouth on Tuesday, Oct. 13, for a 4 p.m. game.

Martin Lord Osman
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