Strong second half leads Knight girls past Eagles
KINGSWOOD’S Rhianna Llewellyn battles with Kennett’s Anna Mays during action on Tuesday, Sept. 27, in North Conway. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
October 03, 2011NORTH CONWAY — Through 38 minutes of soccer on Tuesday, Sept. 27, the Kennett and Kingswood girls had battled back and forth to a 2-1 tie.
In the final minutes of the first half, Kingswood's Morgan Ekstrom slipped through the Kennett defense and beat keeper Shelby Hill for a 2-1 lead and that opened the gates for the Knights. The visiting girls from Kingswood netted three more goals in the second half and walked off the field with a 5-1 win over their rivals from Kennett.
With keeper Amber Carpenter out with an injury, senior Megen Pollini was moved back into the goal, meaning lots of other girls had to step up and fill the shoes for Kingswood coach Paul Harvey.
"The younger girls were the ones that made the difference," the veteran coach said. "A lot of times you depend on one key player, but today they went out and showed they can still play and move the ball without one player."
Harvey noted that both Pollini and Ekstrom volunteered to fill the void between the pipes and he was incredibly grateful for their willingness to help the team. Both girls are key cogs in the offense for the Knights.
"They both volunteered and that was really awesome," Harvey said. He noted that Pollini was battling a minor injury, so keeping her more stationary was the reason he chose one over the other.
"We had a great first half, but we have to figure out how to play 80 minutes," Kennett coach Jess Lawson said. "We have to get through all 80 minutes with intensity."
The two teams had equal opportunities to do damage early in the first half, as Kingswood had a couple of corner kicks that Hill snared. The Kennett keeper also stopped Cheyanne Harris and Ekstrom on scoring bids and Ekstrom also had one sail wide of the net.
Kennett had a good bid from Courtney Phelps, who sent a nice cross in to Jordan Murphy, but her shot sailed high. Kendra Strong also sent in a ball just ahead of Murphy on another chance and Keara Wagner had a bid stopped by Pollini.
Kingswood's Rhianna Llewellyn just missed connections with Katie McKenzie and Kennett's Abbi Miller stepped up with some good defense. Llewellyn, Ekstrom, Melynda Hirtle and Brittany Roy all had bids that were either stopped by Hill or the Kennett defense or sailed wide of the net.
However, midway through the first half, Roy sent a great cross through to McKenzie and she tapped it home for a 1-0 lead.
The Eagles wasted no time getting even, as right off the ensuing restart, Brittany Dickison pushed the ball past Pollini to tie the game at one.
Harris had a couple of nice bids for the Knights, but Hill held her ground. Miller made a good bid for Kennett and Kalin Samia just missed connections with Strong for a scoring bid. Hirtle had a couple of bids for Kingswood and Phelps was turned away on a couple of chances as the half was winding down.
Ekstrom's goal with about a minute left in the half sent the Knights to the break with the momentum and they continued that momentum in the second half.
Both teams had corners early in the half and couldn't score. Hirtle, Harris and Llewellyn had chances for the Knights and Elizabeth Welch saved the day for Kennett, as she booted a loose ball away from the empty net after Hill went out to cut down an angle.
However, with 15 minutes gone in the half, Harris blooped a shot over the head of Hill and into the net for a 3-1 lead.
Kingswood kept coming, with Llewellyn and Roy making good bids but it was Ekstrom who scored next, as she again slipped through the defense and got Hill to commit, before poking the ball by just four minutes later for a 4-1 lead.
Llewellyn added the final goal of the game about eight minutes later, as she went top shelf from the side of the net for a 5-1 lead.
Kennett turned on the pressure in the final portion of the second half, as Dickison, Murphy, Phelps and Wagner all made great bids for the Eagles but Pollini stood up to the test, turning away everything that came her way.
Kaitlin Vekos also had a couple of chances for the Knights in the final few minutes, but the score finished up with a 5-1 win for the Knights.
"What I liked was that they all listened and they all worked hard," Harvey said. "They had some good opportunities."
He noted that the team appears to be coming together as a unit as the season begins to slowly wind down.
"The older girls are giving good, verbal positive encouragement to the younger players," Harvey said. "We're starting to bring the team together."
"That (first half) was much more even than when we played at Kingswood," Lawson said. "I thought our passing is starting to come along.
"We just didn't meet up with their level of play," she continued.
The Kennett girls traveled to Plymouth on Friday and dropped a 2-1 decision to the Bobcats.
Next up for the Eagles will be a home game with St. Thomas on Friday, Oct. 7, as part of Homecoming festivities. The girls will be at Laconia on Tuesday, Oct. 11, at 4 p.m. On Thursday, Oct. 13, the girls host Merrimack Valley at 5:30 p.m. in the final regular season home game.
The Knights will be at Prospect Mountain today, Oct. 6, at 4 p.m. and will be hosting Belmont at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 11.
"We've got some tests coming up," Harvey said.
Joshua Spaulding can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 569-3126