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Soccer girls looking for finishing touch

Team falls in opener against White Mountains

BRITTANY ROY battles for position with a White Mountains Regional Spartan during action on Aug. 27 at The Nick. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
August 30, 2010
WOLFEBORO — The Kingswood girls' soccer team opened last season with three consecutive wins for the first time in as long as coach Paul Harvey could remember.

However, the girls were only able to break into the win column once more the entire year and finished at 4-11-1 and out of the Class I playoff picture.

This year, the Knights have moved from the new Division II (where most Class I teams are playing) to Division III, where they will meet up with a number of new foes, including neighboring Prospect Mountain, Gilford and Inter-Lakes. However, the schedule also includes the traditional Class I rivalries with Plymouth and Kennett.

Harvey will feature a roster with many familiar names from last season and he notes he will be counting on those familiar names to lead the team as they look to bounce back into the playoff scene.

"I'm looking for the girls coming back to hold it together," the veteran coach said. "They know what we needed to do last year.

"But sometimes, they try to do too much," he continued.

Key among the returning players will be junior Megen Pollini, a member of the varsity squad since her freshman year. Harvey is hopeful that the other players around her will step up their game to complement her strong play.

"Megen's definitely one of our key players and I'm hoping we have a number of girls that will step up," Harvey stated. "Megen likes bringing out the best in others."

Shelby Sawyer earned Harvey's praise for always giving 110 percent on the field and Steph Valpey also earned kudos for putting it all on the line on the defensive side of the ball.

"There's a number of girls we really have to depend on," Harvey said. "But those are the ones that I'm looking to take the team where we need to go."

Harvey noted he was putting the responsibility on the team to push themselves to get to the next level and he is confident the girls can do it.

With the graduation of keeper Erin Deely, MacKenzie Porter stepped into the net for the Knights to start the season and Harvey noted that the coaching staff is also working with other players to help provide some backup. One who has earned some consideration in that position is Morgan Ekstrom, the hoop team's point guard and the softball team's shortstop and an all-around solid athlete with good speed.

"She's a good athlete," Harvey said.

"I'm really looking towards the girls to step up and take it to the next level," Harvey stated. "It's definitely a tough process teaching the kids to win. It's a mindset and hopefully we'll put it all together."

First game

The Knights opened the season on Friday, Aug. 27, hosting White Mountains Regional at The Nick.

Things got off to a slow start, as the Spartans didn't arrive at the field until 4:25 p.m. for a game time of 4 p.m. The game started 45 minutes late and the Knights took a few minutes to get things moving.

The Spartans, however, came out charging and quickly tested Porter in the Kingswood net, but the young keeper was up for the save and kept the game scoreless as the Knights got their running legs under them after the long wait.

Kelsey Rodgers made a couple of nice plays to get a good chance for Kingswood, but her shot sailed wide.

Pollini followed with a direct kick that ricocheted off the crossbar and out and then had a corner kick that found its way to the front of the net but nobody was able to put it home.

"Finishing, that's the hardest thing to teach because sometimes the kids are just too nice," Harvey said of his team's biggest weakness.

White Mountains came back with some pressure, but the visitors were unable to put the ball on net and Kingswood came right back down the field, with Pollini again sending a corner kick in front to no avail and Ekstrom sending a shot on net that was saved by the Spartan keeper.

Casey Harrigan also made a scoring bid, but was turned away by the Spartan defense and Rodgers sent a shot wide of the net.

White Mountains again brought the ball back up the field, but this time, Sawyer made a solid defensive play to quelch a scoring chance and Brittany Roy turned it into a scoring bid at the other end, but her shot sailed high.

The two teams exchanged possessions over the final few minutes of the half, but neither team put the ball in the net and the game was scoreless after 40 minutes of play.

Kingswood had a couple of great chances early in the second half, as Alyssa Nelson had the goalie down and out of position, but the Spartan defense closed and didn't allow her to get off a good shot. Pollini also had a nice shot from the side that was punched out of the air by the White Mountains keeper.

White Mountains came back with some good pressure, forcing Porter to make a save and drilling a couple of shots wide.

The visitors finally got on the board with a shot just over Porter's fingers for a 1-0 lead 15 minutes into the second half.

The Spartans continued to pressure and made the Kingswood defense and Porter earn their keep, but Nelson made a great defensive play in close and Porter made a save and Kingswood was able to get the ball back up the field, with Harrigan, Roy and Megan Lander getting chances and Pollini sending another corner kick in on net.

Pollini had another shot sail wide and a direct kick go high and then gave Kingswood a great scoring chance, as she put a shot on net. The ball was saved by the Spartan keeper, but the rebound was controlled by Roy, who set up Rhianna Llewellyn. However, Llewellyn's boot went wide and the score remained 1-0.

Roy had the final solid scoring chance of the afternoon, as she moved in close on the Spartan keeper, but the goalie made a great point-blank save and preserved the 1-0 win for her team.

"That's the way it goes sometimes," Harvey said. "We're still working on the finishing touches, that's something we've got to put together."

He did note that there were some positive things to take from the game.

"There were some positive things, like our ball movement, but there's still stuff to work on too."

The Knights will be in action on Friday, Sept. 3, when they make the trip to Whitefield for a rematch with the Spartans at 4 p.m. On Tuesday, Sept. 7, the girls will play on the new Alumni Field at the Kingswood complex at 6 p.m. against Plymouth.

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