Field hockey gets lone Homecoming win


Soccer, volleyball and football teams all falter, cross country runs well



SKennHomecoming1
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KENNETT’S field hockey seniors were honored prior to their final home game on Friday, Oct. 7. Front row (l to r), Stephanie Loynd, Marian Biggio and Nisha Kondrat. Back row (l to r), Charlotte Walker, Monica Andreani, Faye Roberts, Alex Massa and Kori Sandman. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
October 10, 2011
NORTH CONWAY — The weather was perfect for the annual Kennett Homecoming celebration, but opponents from St. Thomas, Laconia and Monadnock made things a little difficult on the hometown Kennett teams.

The lone win of Homecoming came from the Eagle field hockey team, as the girls rallied from a 1-0 deficit to knock off previously unbeaten St. Thomas by a 2-1 score on Friday, Oct. 7.

The visiting Saints scored less than three minutes into the game to take a 1-0 lead on coach CJ Lang's Eagles, ruining any momentum the hosts may have gotten from the celebration of Senior Day and the dedication of a bench in honor of longtime coach Deryl Fleming.

However, Kennett didn't back down after falling behind and slowly began to take control of the game.

The Eagles got a corner with 15:20 o go in the half and Elyse Clancy took a feed from Aimee-Kate Gutowski and buried it in the cage to tie the game at one.

The Eagles continued to pressure, with lots of good opportunities in the offensive zone, including a couple of penalty corners in the final minutes of the first half.

The Eagles also managed to control things on the defensive side, as Alex Massa, Monica Andreani and Clancy all turned in solid defensive performances to help keep the Saints from untying the score before halftime.

St. Thomas threatened early in the second half, but Kennett came right back down the field and Vonde Saunders, Gutowski, Clancy and Charlotte Walker all had bids come up short of the net, including two on corners.

The Saints rallied back and got a corner of their own but couldn't convert and Kennett came right back with more offensive pressure, this time from Emily Watson and Stephanie Loynd.

Amanda Nusbaum and Massa turned in solid defensive plays that allowed the Eagles to get the ball back down the field, where they had four penalty corners in a row but couldn't convert.

Finally, after all the pressure, Saunders found Loynd in close and the senior pushed the ball into the net and Kennett had a 2-1 lead with 9:34 to play in the game.

St. Thomas went to work over the next nine minutes, doing whatever they could to get the ball back in the cage, but keeper Kori Sandman and the Eagle defense held strong and the Saints got on the bus with their first defeat of the season.

"They showed the potential they've had all year," Lang said. "They played with a lot of intensity and a lot of heart."

Lang noted that Fleming had a big impact on the careers of the older players on the squad and they wanted to win it for her.

"She always used to say, believe in the dream, and they did that," Lang said. "I was very pleased and each and everyone one should be proud of themselves."

The Eagles were coming off a 3-2 loss to Plymouth early in the week, in a game that didn't quite go the way the Eagles would've liked.

"There was a lot of hesitation," Lang said. "We controlled a lot of the first half, but we could not capitalize. That's mostly a mental block"

Kennett took a 1-0 lead in the first half on a goal from Loynd, but Plymouth scored three times in the second half to open up a 3-1 lead. Watson scored in the final minute of the second half as the Eagles fought to tie things up, but they couldn't get the final shot in. Walker assisted on both of the Kennett goals.

The Eagles finished their season after deadline Wednesday in Laconia. The playoffs begin on Thursday, Oct. 20.

Girls' soccer

The Kennett girls' soccer team also hosted St. Thomas on Friday, Oct. 7, and couldn't find a way to get on the scoreboard, dropping a 6-0 decision to the Saints, the third shutout of the week for the Eagles. Check out the game story from the contest with Pembroke elsewhere in this section.

Volleyball

A week earlier, the Kennett volleyball team traveled to Laconia and spoiled the Homecoming celebration for the Sachems with a big win.

On Friday night, Oct. 7, the Sachems returned that favor, rallying from a 2-0 deficit to knock off the Eagles by a 3-2 score.

The Kennett girls came out of the gate strong and picked up 25-20 and 25-23 wins in the first two games, but in the third game, things started to go awry for the Eagles.

"The momentum was there in those first two games, they were upbeat and positive, but as soon as we started losing in the third game, it changed," coach Jocelyn Judge said.

The Eagles had good serving throughout the night, but the Sachems capitalized on the Eagles' mistakes and took a 25-23 win in the third game.

"We had come back in the second game and even in the third game, so I said, this is no big deal, you can get through this," Judge said.

However, in the fourth game, the Eagles came out behind the eight ball right away and that certainly didn't help things, as they dropped a 25-19 decision, meaning a fifth and deciding game was needed.

"I told them, you have to come out strong," Judge said.

That didn't happen, however, as the Sachems got out to a quick lead and didn't look back, taking a 15-9 win for the 3-2 victory.

"Down at Laconia (the previous week), they were all close games, so I knew it would be tight, but not undoable," Judge said,

The Eagles returned home for the first time since Sept. 14 on Wednesday, Oct. 5, and dropped a 3-0 decision to the Portsmouth Clippers.

Things came off the wheels quickly in that game, as Portsmouth took a 25-4 win in the first game. The Eagles did play much better in the next two games but still dropped a 3-0 decision.

The Eagles did get a nice win to open the week, traveling to Concord's New Hampshire Technical Institute, where they took on Pelham.

Kennett won 25-22, 26-24 and 26-24 to take the 3-0 victory for the team's third win of the season.

Kaitlin Taylor led the way for Kennett with nine aces and Cadie Camille had five aces.

The Eagles will be playing their final home game of the season on Friday, Oct. 14, at 6:30 p.m. against Con-Val. The girls hit the road to Plymouth on Wednesday, Oct. 19, for the final regular season game of the year.

"It will be interesting to see how things shake out in the final weeks," Judge said.

Boys' soccer

The Kennett boys' soccer team also played host to St. Thomas as part of the Homecoming festivities on Friday, Oct. 7, and despite a nice rally in the second half, the Saints walked off with a 5-2 victory.

The loss put a damper on the playoff hopes for the Eagles, leaving them with three tough games ahead with wins necessary to get in to the tournament.

"We've put the burden on us to win the last games," coach Mike Jenne said.

Despite bids from Tanner Van Coesant on a corner kick and Austin Hale on a bid in close, the Saints managed to control the first part of the game, forcing Kennett keeper Scott Conner to make a number of solid saves.

The Eagles also had a chance on a long direct kick from Van Coesant that Alex Milford sent wide, but St. Thomas answered with a tally 15 minutes in, as the ball was looped in to the zone and then headed past a diving Conner for a 1-0 lead.

St. Thomas continued to pressure the ball with numerous chances in the offensive zone. Conner made a couple of nice saves and Van Coesant and Nicky Sullivan helped out with good clearing bids.

Kennett had an indirect kick from Milford that was blocked and the Saints answered with a couple of corner kicks in a row. Conner made a save on the first and the second was cleared away by the Kennett defense.

However, with about five minutes to go, a Kennett defender inadvertently touched the ball past Conner for a 2-0 lead and a couple minutes later, the Saints scored on a rebound after Conner's initial save and the visitors took a 3-0 lead to the break.

The Saints added to that lead early in the second half but Kennett finally got a little bit of offense going after the fourth goal.

Bryce Phillips, Donovan Spaulding and Kurt Niiler had chances denied, but the Eagles finally got on the board almost midway through the half.

Milford sent in a direct kick that rocketed off the cross bar and off the goalie's fingers, right to Niiler, who headed it home to cut the lead to 4-1.

Just a couple of minutes later, Seth Davison beat a Saint defender and then tipped the ball past the Saint keeper to make it a 4-2 game

Kennett had a couple of more good chances, with Mike Albert and Sullivan getting good looks, but the ball stayed out of the net. Van Coesant and company helped Conner in the defensive end, but with about 12 minutes to play, the Saints added a bit of insurance on a shot to the top of the goal for a 5-2 lead.

The Eagles weren't able to get anything else in the goal for the final minutes and St. Thomas took the 5-2 win.

"We've got good players, good leaders, but our character is still cheery and happy, even though these games are make it or break it," Jenne said. "We have to go in and play them tough, that's pretty much all we can ask for.

"You try to prepare for every single game the best you can and that's what we do, but we struggled in a lot of spots, especially on defense," the Eagle coach continued.

The Eagles will travel to Merrimack Valley today, Oct. 13, for a 4 p.m. game with the Pride.

Cross country

The Homecoming celebration opened on Thursday with the annual Kennett Invitational, held at the middle school in Conway Village.

The Kennett girls came home fourth overall, while the Eagle boys ran to fifth against a field of top teams from Oyster River, Coe-Brown and St. Thomas. Kingswood, Berlin and Gorham also attended and competed.

Leading the way for the Kennett girls was Hannah Benson, who ran to 11th overall in a time of 20:52. Sianna Streeter was next for the Eagles, clocking in at 21:17 for 15th place.

Sarah Hernandez ran to 23rd overall in a time of 22:15. Gillian Wilcox was 31st in 22:34 and Kate Taylor was one spot back in 32nd place in 22:35 to round out the scoring for the Kennett girls.

Emmaline Ashe finished 42nd in 23:22 and Amanda Folsom came home 46th in 23:37. Marissa Anderson was 61st in 24:39, Gigi Miller was 62nd in 24:44 and Ke Cawley was 63rd in 25:06. Emilie Santuccio ran to 67th in 25:34 and Dakota Esmay finished 73rd in 26:48. Grace Townsend (76th, 27:22), Margherita Maria Rossi (77th, 27:45), Lyric Montgomery (78th, 27:45), Heidi Jenis (82nd, 29:35), S. West (84th, 33:23) and Chelsea Purdy (85th, 33:58) rounded out the field of Eagles.

For the boys, senior Peter Haine was tops, as he ran to 12th in a time of 17:38, while Ryan Kenny was 35th in 18:35 to finish second for the Eagles. Brian Behr and David Mays both finished in 19:48 for 51st and 52nd places. Ben Zimmer rounded out the scoring in 61st place in 20:14.

Liam Martin and Andrew Casella came home 66th and 67th, both in 20:37. Tucker Furnbach was 80th in 21:26 and Alex Brown was 81st in 21:34. Matt Wales placed 84th in 21:44 and Jon Brady finished 94th in 22:26. Josh Hill was 102nd in 23:08 and Tim Allen was 108th in 23:26. Mitchell Evans rounded out the Eagles in 111th in 23:56.

"I thought it went really well," coach Bernie Livingston said. "It was a perfect day and we had great help as usual, I can't complain."

He noted that almost every single runner on his team had a personal or season best time on the flat home course.

"This is a fast course," he said. "It doesn't always happen, but the kids that ran today ran really well."

He noted that the race is a lot of work for the many volunteers who help out, but it's great for the kids to get to run in front of family and friends.

"And this is a great venue, very spectator friendly," Livingston continued. "You can see a lot of the course."

He noted that having top teams in attendance makes for a fun day as well, though the race is always a pretty low key event, even if it is highly-competitive. This year' Oyster River's Jack Collopy broke his own course record in a time of 15:56. Having the faster kids at the front of the field also pulls the whole field along.

"They pull each other along," Livingston added.

Next up for the Eagles is a trip to Plymouth for a 4 p.m. meet on Friday, Oct. 14.

Football

The final event of the Homecoming celebration was the Kennett football team's bout with Monadnock at Millen Stadium on Friday night.

The Huskies did some damage to the Eagles' playoff aspirations, much like they did a year ago, as they walked off the field with a 26-10 win. The Eagles must come away with a win in one of their next two games (Laconia and Trinity) in order to secure a playoff berth.

"We knew it was one of the three we had to win," coach Mike Holderman said. "Unfortunately it was not tonight, but we'll just take our chances at Trinity."

The Eagles came out and got an early first down on the first drive, as quarterback Jesse Wheeler hit Austin Weber for a six-yard gain and Nick Massa ran for the rest, but the Eagle attack stumbled there and Monadnock took over. However, the Huskies did manage a couple of first downs on their drive. But good defense from Christian Rivers and Mike Lautenschlager helped stop the run inside the 20 yard line and the field goal attempt was no good, keeping things scoreless.

Three plays into the next drive, the Eagles fumbled and Monadnock took advantage. Nine plays later, the visitors were in the end zone on an eight-yard screen pass for a 6-0 lead with 28 seconds left in the quarter.

Jordan Stocker made his second good kick return of the night for the Eagles and Massa broke free for a 47-yard run that brought the ball all the way down to the 13 yard line. Wheeler then hit Chris Krug with a pass as the first quarter ended. However, the Eagles could not punch the ball in the end zone from less than 10 yards out and Monadnock took over.

The Huskies then proceeded to eat up a good chunk of the second quarter clock as they marched the ball back up the field with a relentless and powerful running attack. The visitors took the ball in from just a couple yards out and took a 12-0 lead with 1:44 to play in the half.

Kennett's offense came alive, as Wheeler hit Krug for a 42-yard gain on second down and Lautenschlager took the ball in from 18 yards out with 1:17 to play. Connor Gillette drilled the extra point to make it 12-7.

The Huskies fumbled on the second play of the next drive and Rivers recovered, giving the Eagles the ball on their side of midfield. Wheeler scrambled for 22 yards and after a sack and an incomplete pass, Gillette came on and drilled a 39-yard field goal to cut the lead to 12-10 heading to halftime.

Both teams punted on their first drives of the second half, though Krug made a nice grab of a Wheeler pass and Krug, Cody Richard and Dustin Stewart had good defensive stops.

The Huskies punted on their second drive and Kennett went for it on fourth and two at the 43 yard line and couldn't convert, giving the visitors the ball back. Monadnock ran down the rest of the third quarter clock and kept going into the fourth quarter, scoring with 9:38 to play in the game for an 18-10 lead.

Kennett fumbled its next possession and the Huskies took advantage, going 31 yards on seven plays to go in the end zone again with 5:41 to go for a 26-10 lead after the two-point conversion.

Wheeler hit Lautenschlager for a 35-yard completion to open Kennett's next drive, but the drive stalled there and Monadnock ate up the rest of the clock for the 26-10 win.

"I am not disappointed in the way we played at all," Holderman said. "We played to the best of our ability and sometimes that's not enough."

He noted that the Eagles did make a couple of mistakes, which they can't do against good teams.

He was pleased with the way his squad fought back from the 12-0 deficit to cut the lead to just two points at the half.

"We had all the momentum at that point," he said. "We just couldn't capitalize."

He praised Stocker for his solid kick returns as well, which set the Eagles up with good field position on a couple of occasions.

The Eagles will head to Trinity for a 7 p.m. game on Friday, Oct. 14.

"They are not as big as these guys (Monadnock), but they're a good football team," Holderman said. "It's got to be one of the two now."

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

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