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Eagles best Knights in opening field hockey tilt

KINGSWOOD’S ERIN MAGUIRE (left) and Kennett’s Abby Gutowski battle for a ball during action Aug. 31 in North Conway. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
September 06, 2010
NORTH CONWAY — Kennett and Kingswood always put on a good battle on the field hockey field and putting the two teams up against one another in the first game of the season only intensifies the rivalry.

Last year, the two teams played to a scoreless tie in their first meeting and the Knights captured the second meeting, but this year, the Eagles got the upper hand with a 2-0 win on their home field on Tuesday, Aug. 31.

Kennett controlled the pace of the game, particularly in the early going, as the hosts had a multitude of chances in front of the Kingswood net.

However, Knight keeper Hannah Bergeron was more than up to the task as she kept her team in the game with a number of big saves.

Presleigh Skelley, Erin Maguire and Marisa Nardelo helped keep the Eagle attack from scoring, but Bergeron also turned away shots from Vicky Weigold, Katie Bishop and Abby Gutowski in the opening minutes of the contest.

Amber McPherson and Stephanie Loynd also came close on a penalty corner and Bishop had another shot turned away by defender Brittany Drapeau. Weigold and Gutowski teamed up for another scoring bid, only to see Bergeron turn it away and Bishop had another shot pulled away by Maguire.

After a timeout, the Knights regrouped and got a little pressure of their own, with Leah Kenison getting a good look, but Eagle keeper Faye Roberts closed the door.

Gutowski and Bishop continued to pressure in the offensive end for Kennett and Skelley turned in another strong defensive play.

However, 17:20 into the game, the Eagles got on the board, as Bishop ripped home a blast for a 1-0 lead.

Kennett continued to pressure, with Gutowski staying strong on the offensive attack, but Bergeron came up with a couple of big saves on both Gutowski and Charlotte Walker, keeping the game at a 1-0 score. Gutowski also sent a pair of shots wide of the net.

With less than nine minutes to play in the first half, the Eagles were able to double the score, as Gutowski stole the ball at the circle and moved in, driving it past Bergeron for a 2-0 lead.

Kingswood responded with their best pressure of the day, as Kenison and Miranda Clark both had great scoring bids denied by Roberts, who made four big saves in a row as the Knights pressured the net.

However, Kingswood couldn't break through and the game went to halftime with the Eagles up by a 2-0 score.

With Roberts nursing a preseason injury, new Eagle coach CJ Lang went to backup goalie Lara Mernik in the second half and she responded with some solid play in her varsity debut.

The Knights came out quickly and looked for the score that would bring them back to within a goal. Sasha McCormick, Nikki Matarozzo and Clark all had great bids, but Mernik and the staunch Kennett defense held strong. Mel Glavin made a great defensive play for the Eagles to help keep the Knights off the board. At one point, the Knights had the ball behind Mernik, but Clark and Matarozzo's diving attempts to push it across the line came up empty, as the Eagle defense was able to push the ball away.

Weigold had a good scoring bid for Kennett midway through the period, but Skelley was able to stop the shot and turn the ball around for Kingswood.

The two teams went back and forth over the final few minutes of the game, as the Knights scrambled to net a goal and cut into the Kennett lead, but the Eagle defense held strong.

Bergeron also made a great save on a Gutowski scoring bid in the final minutes.

The Knights were unable to find the back of the net and the Eagles took a 2-0 win in Lang's Kennett coaching debut.

"It was awesome," the new Eagle coach said. "I was really very impressed with the way it came together."

She noted that she saw things that the team had worked on in practice take shape in the game and was pleased that the players had taken what they learned in practice and applied it in the game.

"I felt like they had a lot of talent and I saw it in the way they played," Lang said. "The girls are doing a good job going to the ball."

She pointed out that the heat certainly was a factor in the game, but the Eagles were able to move players in and out quickly to keep everyone fresh and hydrated.

"We were trying to move them in and out and get water in them," Lang said. "We wanted to keep them moving the best we could."

"We created some good opportunities but we didn't capitalize on them," said Kingswood coach Kaitlin Reilly. "That's a good base to start with and gives us more focus in practice."

She pointed out that it was the first day of school for her kids, which also could've played a role in their sluggishness out of the gate.

"We woke up a little late," she said of her team's slow start. "It was a busy day for everyone."

The Knight coach praised Bergeron for her great play in net and also noted that she and fellow goalie Alyssa Berry are ready to step into the shoes left behind by four-year starter Renee Bernier.

"They know they have big shoes to fill and they've rose to the occasion," Reilly said. "They're each other's biggest fan and each other's biggest competition."

Reilly noted that while it would've been nice to win the opener, the team will again be looking to peak at the right time, something they mastered last year.

"We have to learn from this and continue to row with eyes to the future," she said. "We want to peak at the right time.

"Each game is a stepping stone," she added.

More Eagles

The Kennett girls continued their week with a 3-1 win over Oyster River on Friday, Sept. 3, in Durham.

The Eagles scored twice in the first half, as Loynd tipped home a shot for the team's first goal and Bishop scored off a corner for the second tally.

Lang was happy for Loynd, who had been working on getting tips in front of the net for much of the preseason and finally had it pay off in a game.

"For most of the first half, the girls did a great job like they did in the first game," Lang said.

However, the second half was more of a challenge, as Oyster River picked up the intensity and scored a goal to cut the lead to 2-1.

"They were really picking it up," Lang said of the Bobcats. "But our players kept picking it up too."

Gutowski fired home the third goal of the game on an outside shot to give the Eagles a bit of insurance down the stretch.

"Our strength in this game was how quickly we moved the ball up the field from the defensive end to the offensive end," Lang said, pointing out that the girls have adapted to the new "self pass" rule quite well.

Kennett will be in action on Friday, Sept. 10, when Brady visits North Conway for a 4:15 p.m. start. On Tuesday, Sept. 14, the girls will head to Laconia for a 4:15 p.m. game.

More Knights

The Knights rebounded from their opening loss with a 2-0 win over St. Thomas at The Nick on Friday, Sept. 3.

No other information was available from that game.

Kingswood will be back in action on Friday, Sept. 10, when they host Goffstown at 7 p.m. on the new Alumni Field. On Teusday, Sept. 14, the girls will host Plymouth at 4:30 p.m. at The Nick.

Martin Lord Osman
Brewster Academy
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