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Joyce Endee

Knights squeak by Eagles in a nail-biter

Kingswood boys play in honor of Stacey Burns on anniversary of her death

KINGSWOOD’S MAX GUSTAFSON tries to work the ball past Kennett’s Kevin Murphy during action in Wolfeboro on May 10. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
May 16, 2011
WOLFEBORO — The Kennett boys' lacrosse team may have had a slight advantage heading into last Tuesday's game at Kingswood, being as the Eagles were coming off their first win of the season and likely riding a little momentum.

However, the Knights came out with the memory of slain Wolfeboro mother Stacey Burns on their mind on the two-year anniversary of her death, and dressed in pink and green, fought back to walk off Alumni Field with a 6-5 win over their county rivals.

The game was a far cry from the 13-4 stomping the Knights delivered in North Conway a few weeks earlier.

"We definitely came out with a lot of emotion because of the day," Kingswood coach Jason Perkins said. "Sometimes that emotion carries you, sometimes that emotion clouds things."

In the early going, it looked like the emotions were more cloudy than help, as the Eagles got out to the early lead.

Less than three minutes in, Tom Donovan rifled a shot past Kingswood keeper Mike Bernier for a 1-0 lead. That came just moments after the Knights had pressured at the other end and Alex Boucher had sent one high of the net.

Kennett continued to pressure, with Jesse Wheeler and Gabe Lee getting bids.

Less than two minutes after the opening goal, Anthony LaRusso got in close on Bernier and buried a shot for a 2-0 Kennett lead.

Kingswood finally got going back in the other direction and Connor Diamon, Sam Hart, Mitch Tappan, Boucher and Cam Whitcomb all came down with scoring bids. However, Kennett keeper Zach Kempf held his ground and kept the ball out of the net despite numerous Kingswood attempts in the final minutes of the quarter.

When the horn sounded, Kennett had a 2-0 lead with one quarter in the books.

While neither team scored for the first 8:02 of the second quarter, the majority of the chances belonged to Kingswood, as MacKenzie Tetreault, Tappan, Whitcomb and Jake Vontz all had bids turned away by Kempf or sail wide of the net.

Alex Fauver and Lee had bids for the Eagles, who couldn't get the ball past Bernier.

With 3:58 to play in the half, Tetreault worked his way through the defense and fired a shot to the back of the net to cut the lead to 2-1.

Kennett came back immediately with pressure from Donovan, but Bernier held his ground. Nick Dore sent a shot wide for Kingswood as well.

However, with 1:42 to play in the half, Tetreault picked up a loose ball and sent it home to tie the game at two.

Whitcomb and Hart had chances for Kingswood and Kevin Murphy did the same for Kennett, but the teams went to the half with the score tied at two.

It took less than a minute for Kingswood to break the tie in the third quarter, as Tetreault sent a low shot past Kempf for the 3-2 lead just 59 seconds into the frame.

Less than two minutes later, Hart took a pass from Tetreault and bounced a shot past Kempf for a 4-2 lead.

Kennett didn't back down, as the Eagles answered right back just more than 30 seconds later. LaRusso hit Murphy with a pass and the junior sniper buried it to cut the lead to 4-3 with 8:31 to play.

Lee and LaRusso had shots for the Eagles while Boucher, Ethan Ball and Mike Garabedian had bids for the Knights.

With 4:48 to play in the quarter, Whitcomb took a pass from Diamond and drilled it home to push the lead to 5-3.

The Eagles closed the gap in the final minute of the quarter, as Chris King unleashed a long shot that zipped by Bernier and into the goal to cut the lead to 5-4 after three quarters of play.

Boucher, Tetreault and Nick Moore had chances early in the fourth for the Knights, but Kempf held his ground.

With 8:47 to play, the defensive stops paid off, as Murphy fought through the defense, ducked around Bernier and drilled the ball to the twine, tying the game at five.

The two teams went back and forth for the next five minutes or so, but the best chance came for the Eagles, as Kemp was out of the net and Matt Kelly did a great job of diving in front of the open net to keep a ball out.

However, with 3:13 to go, Tetreault rifled a shot past Kempf and the Knights made it stand for the 6-5 win.

"We made some mistakes, had some opportunities we didn't convert on, and we found ourselves in the same position we were in last time with them," Perkins said of the first half. "We knew we had to rally and come out in the third and we did that with a couple quick goals.

"I think we really stepped up on all facets of the game and put ourselves in a position to win," Perkins said.

He also praised Kempf for a solid game in the Eagle net.

"He made some great saves up top and down low," Perkins said.

Kennett coach Jared Doherty agreed.

"Zack has been a star since day one, a hard worker and leader by example on the field," Doherty stated.

He also praised Kelly for his solid defensive effort so far on the season, including stepping in front of many shots seemingly destined for the net.

"He has almost as many stopped shots as our goalie," Doherty said.

Doherty also praised Lee and LaRusso for stepping up, which was part of what led to the Eagles picking up a 10-3 win over Pembroke on Friday, May 6, the team's first win. They followed up the Kingswood game with a win over John Stark on Wednesday, May 11, 8-7.

"I couldn't be more proud of my guys," Doherty said. "The team as a whole has bought into how talented they can be now that they've seen what they can do. It takes all our players working together to come out on top."

The Knights had only one other game and ended the same way the Kennett game did, with a 6-5 score in favor of the Kingswood kids on the road on Thursday, May 12.

The Knights will finish their season with a home game Friday, May 20, against Lebanon at 4 p.m., a trip to Merrimack Valley on Monday, May 23, at 4 p.m. and a home game with Pembroke on Wednesday, May 25, at 4 p.m.

The Eagles will host Plymouth on Friday, May 20, at 4:30 p.m., travel to Hopkinton on Monday, May 23, for a 4 p.m. game and head to Gilford to finish the season on Wednesday, May 25, at 4 p.m.

Martin Lord Osman
Martin Lord & Osman
Salmon Press
Varney Smith
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