Last Updated on Wednesday, 15 May 2013 03:35
Kennett Eagles spring sports are winding down toward the regular season's end, and playoff opportunities loom on the horizon for several teams.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 15 May 2013 03:34
The Eagles open the season against some of the iron of Division III lacrosse, traveling to Gilford on Tuesday, who went 10-4 last season and won the championship in 2011; and then hosting Derryfield School, who went 14-0 last spring and reached the DIII finals, on Thursday at 4 p.m.
"I'm hoping we can maybe get down there a little early and get on their field and get a little used to the dimensions before we start," Jared Doherty, Eagles' head coach, said.
It's been a rough preseason for the Eagles who have been relegated to training in school parking lots due to the lack of available fields because of the late spring. Monday afternoon marked the first time off paving when the team was able to train on a quarter of a regulation sized field.
"It's been tough for the guys," Doherty said. "We haven't been able to scrimmage or do a lot. We were supposed to scrimmage with Fryeburg Academy last week but their field was still under snow. It would be nice if we had a few more days to get ready, but we don't."
Doherty, a Kennett alumni, is now in his third year at the helm of the Eagles. Doherty was a standout player and former two-year captain of the UMass lacrosse team. He was an outstanding defenseman for the Minutemen.
Doherty will have help on the sidelines this spring from assistant coach Garrett Meador and Ross Emery, who will coach the junior varsity, too.
"I'm lucky with the help we have," Doherty said. "Both know a ton about the sport and are invested in the program, they'll be a big help."
Coaches welcomed 36 players out for the program last month. It's a little down from 45 last year, but a number of players opted to play in the Mount Washington Valley Lacrosse Club's U-15 program. The Eagles lost 10 seniors from last year's 4-10 club in Matt Kelly, Matt Halupowski, Kevin Murphy, Mikey Emanuelson, Jesse Wheeler, Gabe Lee, Ryan Cottrell, Ben Emery, Chris King and Tucker Paven.
"We lost a lot of people," Doherty said, "but we also have a lot of good young players coming up through the system."
Doherty is looking for two freshmen to contribute significantly this spring in Kherry Rober, who can play anywhere on the field; and Tristan Andreani, who play goalie and could be a four year starter in that position for KHS.
"I'm really excited about both of them," Doherty said.
Doherty also believes the Kennett defense will be solid with senior Conor McDonald anchoring the squad along with defensive captain Mitchell Yanha, who has had a strong preseason for the Eagles.
In the midfield, captains Gabe DeFeo and Alex Fauver provide experience, speed and solid leadership.
Up front, senior Anthony LaRusso, also a captain, is expected to lead the Eagles in scoring and has a real nose for the net.
"We're counting on him to show the younger kids how to run the offense and to be a leader on the field," Doherty said.
Cal Bennett, who was the junior varsity captain for two years, has been named an assistant captain in this his junior year. He will also play in attack with LaRusso.
As for a team strength, Coach Doherty likes what he sees. "I think it's our heart," he said. "All of our kids know what they have going against them like not having a field this preseason and being so young, but they're overlooking those things and concentrating on the task at hand which is getting ready for Gilford."
Doherty has a passion for the sport.
"I've been looking forward to this season since last year after the final game," he said, smiling. "...For the season outlook, we have a few team goals that we look to achieve. The most important part of playing is having fun. By the team having fun together the game will become more of a instinct than a thinking game and this will translate into better team unity and also will increase team wins which makes the game that more fun.
"Secondly, we want everyone to improve their skills from last season," he continued. "I think we can continue to build the program from a wins standpoint. I wouldn't be surprised to see us win seven or eight games. Above all I want our kids to be betty players at the end of the season than when they started."
The final team goal is sportsmanship.
"It's important to be good sports," Doherty said. "I do not take or accept any unsportsmanlike behavior and have stressed the importance of sportsmanship. Every time we take to the field I want us to do it with class and respect. I really want to see us win the sportsmanship award."
Lacrosse has taken off in the Mount Washington Valley with youth programs drawing large numbers. It's something that bodes well for the sport at the high school level.
"We have a great youth program in Mount Washington Valley Lacrosse Club," Doherty said. "Everyone is doing a great job of getting on the same page at the lower levels. By the time they come to us as freshman they're ready to go; it's only going to help strengthen the program."
Last Updated on Monday, 08 April 2013 05:20
Chris Bailey's troops will do that for the first time Friday afternoon when they travel to Durham to open the Division II season against Oyster River at 4 p.m.
"At least we've been able to get outdoors this week and get on our courts and hit some balls," Bailey, who enters his 14th season at the helm of the boys program, said. "(Laughing) It hasn't felt like spring most of this spring. It's been tough — it's not like the old days when we had bad weather and could go indoors to Cranmore and play on four or five courts.
"...Having as many veterans back as we do is definitely a big plus this spring," he continued. "I have boys I know can step in and contribute right away."
With no money in the budget for indoor court rentals, the Eagles have had to make due with available parking lot space and hitting where they can.
"I expect Oyster River to be one of our tougher opponents this season," Bailey said. "I think they have pretty much everyone back expect their No. 1. ...The rest of the schedule looks pretty good, but we're going to be busy with four matches in six days, it should be interesting."
After the trek to Oyster River, KHS is slated to host Plymouth on Monday (4 p.m.); entertain St. Thomas on Wednesday; and then head to Trinity on Friday.
The Eagles are coming off a 10-4 season and top eight finish in Division II last year. For some strange reason only eight out of 21 schools make the Division II playoffs while 12 out of 20 teams make tournament in Division III boys lacrosse.
"I expect us to be pretty competitive with everyone else," Bailey said and listed Portsmouth, Bishop Brady and St. Thomas along with Oyster River as the other playoff contenders on Kennett's schedule. "I think the goal is to have a winning season and get back to the playoffs and both of those are realistic."
Junior Danny Macdonald, who was 7-8 at the No. 2 spot in singles last year, moves up to No. 1 for the Oyster River match.
"It'll be a little bit of an adjustment to move up to No. 1, but I expect Danny to play well," Bailey said.
Sophomore Kyle Blakely went 7-7 in the No. 3 spot in 2012 and will move up a spot to No. 2 while senior Nick Sullivan, who was 9-4 at No. 4 last season, will play No. 3.
"I think the three of them give us a pretty good anchor at the top of our lineup," Bailey said. "It's a good core, a solid nucleus."
Fellow returnees Greg Miller, Lucas Tinkham and Robert Schrader will start the season in the No 4, 5 and 6 slots for singles.
"With the weather and no nets we haven't been able to play any challenge matches yet," Bailey said.
In doubles, for Friday, Bailey plans to play Macdonald and Blakely together along with the tandem of Sullivan/Miller and was still tinkering with the No. 3 pair as of press time.
With 20 boys out for the team (just five seniors), Coach Bailey anticipates veterans Curt Niiler, a senior. and sophomore Tanat Ghanjai to be in the mix vying for playing time along with newcomers Philip Mathieu, Tim Avery and Kiefer Bradley.
"I think the phrase for this season might be 'cautiously optimistic,'" Bailey said with a smile.
Last Updated on Thursday, 04 April 2013 06:01
The Eagles are scheduled to host Oyster River at 4 p.m. The Bobcats opened their season Wednesday at Bishop Brady and were swept in the doubles by the Green Giants who came from behind to win 6-3 in a contest played in 30 mile per hour wind gusts.
With Mother Nature reluctant to leave the scene in a timely fashion it was only just this week that the KHS girls were able to get on their courts and with frost still in the ground the posts and nets did not go up until match day.
"It's been hard to practice," Cadman, who takes over the varsity squad from Deb Lemire, who departed after two years at the helm, said. Cadman was the junior varsity coach last year. "We got on our courts for the first time on Tuesday, but still no nets. At least being on the court allows the girls to get a feel for it."
With limited court time, the Eagles have had to be creative in their training approach.
"Before getting on the courts we did a lot of conditioning and running drills in the parking lot," Cadman said. "We've been working on our agility and stamina. Beyond that we've been doing some yoga, too."
Cadman has 26 girls out for the program this spring and is hoping to find a junior varsity coach to help with the squad.
"One more person with experience would be excellent to have," she said. "Right now (with just one person) it really takes away from the beginners who could use a hand getting started."
The JV squad played three matches last year. Cadman would like to build on that number but above all wants to get the girls on the court, hitting and improving their strokes.
Juniors Anna Mays and Erika Szekely, who played No. 2 and 3 singles last year, are expected to play at or near the top of the line-up this spring. Mays will play No. 1 singles on Friday in the season-opener. Szekely will miss the first match due to a Key Club commitment, but Coach Cadman envisions her working her way back up the team ladder.
Senior Lidiya Dzhumayeva will play No. 2 singles on Friday while sophomore DeGrasse Schrader is at No. 3 and team captain Ashley Longmuir, a senior, is pencilled in at No. 4.
"Ashley is our captain," Cadman said. "She had excellent attendance last year and all through this preseason, she's definitely a leader and great person to have on our team."
Freshman Emma Niiler, who is coming off a strong alpine season for the Eagles, will open in the No. 5 singles while Isabelle Doucette will play No. 6.
In the doubles, for Friday, Mays and Dzhumayeva are slated to play No. 1 followed by Schrader/Longmuir at No. 2 and Niiler/Catherine Lees at No. 3.
"It's been really hard to evaluate the girls without a lot of court time," Cadman said. "I've been basing a lot on their agility and conditioning progress throughout the preseason."
Coach Cadman likes the make-up of her squad and is looking forward to the start of the season.
"I'm really excited about the season," she said. "We've set some pretty strong goals for the season and the girls are working hard to improve their conditioning and technique. This really is a good group of girls. We're all going to Friendly's (Thursday night) to celebrate the start of the season. This really does feel like one team, not just a varsity team and a JV team, but one Kennett team."
The playoffs would be a nice accomplish this season, the Eagles last went to the tournament in 2010.
"The playoffs are any coach's dream, but that's not the No. 1 goal," Cadman said. "I'm not about just winning. I want all of the girls to have a successful experience, improve their skills and make them feel like they are a part of something."
Last Updated on Thursday, 04 April 2013 04:44