Eagles come blazing out of the gate


Kennett soccer girls blitz Laconia in opener, 6-1



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LAUREN WHITE tries to move the ball away from a Laconia defender during action Friday night at Gary Millen Stadium. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
August 29, 2011
NORTH CONWAY — In this season's first game, the Kennett girls' soccer team came close to matching its offensive output from all of last season.

The Eagles put the ball in the back of the net six times on Friday, Aug. 26, against Laconia and walked off the Gary Millen Stadium field with a 6-1 win. Last year, the Eagles scored a total of nine goals on the season.

"That was a team effort," said coach Jess Lawson. "Every single player put something in to the game."

She noted that the Eagles just needed to continue that type of play when playing against the stronger teams.

"There's no reason when we play teams like St. Thomas, that we can't play like this," she said.

With Laconia not fielding a JV team, Lawson had access to the entire JV roster for the game as well, which allowed the varsity kids plenty of rest, particularly once the lead got bigger.

"Every JV kid got time, which is awesome," Lawson said. "They got to try that varsity game."

The Eagles didn't waste much time getting on the scoreboard, netting the game's first goal less than three minutes in.

Lauren White drilled a shot that appeared ticketed for the far corner of the net, but a hard-charging Anna Mays made sure it got the net, as she tipped the ball in for a 1-0 lead

Jordan Murphy just missed connections with Mays on another offensive chance and Mays sent another wide. Murphy also had a shot go wide and White saw one stopped.

Kendra Strong made a big play on defense in front of keeper Shelby Hill and then chipped in on offense, as her long shot beat the Laconia keeper and gave Kennett a 2-0 lead with less than nine minutes gone in the game.

White, Mays and Strong continued to pressure the goal, but couldn't break through. Keara Wagner also had a scoring bid for the Eagles.

With 17 minutes to go in the half, Courtney Phelps upped the lead to 3-0, as she drilled a direct kick to the top corner. Kennett didn't back down, as Mays and Eliza Burke had great bids and Strong and Wagner just missed a connection.

Hill also had a couple of solid saves as the half came to a close and Kennett went to the break with a 3-0 lead.

Elizabeth Welch and Mays had early chances, but it was White who broke into the scoring column next, as she drilled a shot to the low corner for a 4-0 lead less than five minutes into the second half. The four goals matched the Eagles' highest one-game output of last season.

Phelps, Mays and Katie Burton continued the pressure in the offensive end and it was Phelps who made it 5-0, as she drilled a shot in with 25 minutes to play in the game.

Hill made a few more saves before she was replaced by Ruth Estey. The Sachems managed to squeeze one by the backup keeper with less than 20 minutes to play, but she also made a good save on a corner kick.

With six ticks less than eight minutes on the clock, Wagner got a penalty kick chance and drilled it home for a 6-0 lead.

Amelia Saras played the final few minutes in goal for the Eagles and came up with a save as the Kennett girls got the first win in the books.

"It was great to start that way," Lawson said. "I was very impressed with our passing today. They just did what I asked them to do."

Preview

Lawson opened the season with 29 players between the varsity and JV roster and figured that once school started, there would be one or two more looking to join up. However, the team was snake-bitten in the preseason.

Sisters Paulina and Libby Karabelas both suffered knee injuries in scrimmages at Oyster River and both could be out for the season, with Libby's chances of returning better than her older sister's.

Lawson noted that the thing that could distinguish this year's team from last year's team is speed, as the Eagles have some kids who can tear up the field.

"The difference will be we have a lot more speed this year," Lawson said. "There are some freshmen and sophomores who are new and have picked the game up and they are fast. They recover really well."

Replacing keeper Brie Roberts was also a main priority for the team and Lawson was confident in Hill from the get-go.

"She probably saved 75 percent of the shots she faced (on JV) last year," the Eagle coach said. "And she went to camp over the summer too."

Also new this season is the Kennett Soccer Booster Club, which will be selling concessions during home games at Gary Millen Stadium as well as on the team's regular field. They will also be running a 50/50 raffle at home games, with all proceeds to benefit the girls' and boys' soccer programs at Kennett.

The Eagles will next be in action on Friday, Sept. 2, when they make their first trip of the year, heading to Concord to take on Bishop Brady at 4 p.m. On Tuesday, Sept. 6, the girls host White Mountains Regional at 6 p.m. at Gary Millen Stadium.

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

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