CONWAY — The Kennett High field hockey team (10-1-0, currently third in Division II) completed another winning week capped off with a 3-0 shutout victory over Oyster River (4-8-0, 13th) at home at Centola Field on Friday.
Facing a tough upcoming three-match week, the Eagles control their destiny; if they can win out, Kennett will get a bye during the preliminary round of tournament play (top five qualify for a bye), and advance directly to host a quarterfinal match on Oct. 27.
On Friday, the Bobcats were unable to survive the pressure of an Eagles offense which was swarming all day, with major portions of activity in the Oyster River defensive third. Just 9:26 into the game, Kennett’s leading scorer Natalie Shaw (17 goals, 5 assists, 39 points), found some space in a packed goalie circle, assisted by Jaelin Cummings. Shaw unleashed a hard shot that found the back of the cage.
The Eagles maintained the run of play throughout the first half, and Eva Drummond capitalized with a goal from a goalmouth scramble 2:06 before halftime. The score could have been much greater in the Eagles favor, but for stellar aggressive goalie play by Bobcat Leah Mahoney.
The Eagles left no doubt as to the match outcome, when just 2:19 into the second half, Drummond, regarded as among the top defenders in the state finished her second goal of the game.
Against the Bobcats, the Eagles needed several players to step up their game, playing without injured forward/midfielder Kathryn Hawkes (6 goals, 3 assist, 15 points), midfield playmaker Maddie Stewart (2, 7, 11), and midfielder Tatum Brett (1, 1, 3).
Fortunately, coach Cassie Daley was able to advance players from the JV program who fit right in at the varsity level. Daley praised two sophomores, forward Caroline Coleman and forward/midfielder Veronica Carboni for stepping into significant varsity playing time without missing a beat.
The timetable for the return of Stewart, Hawkes and Brett remains uncertain, so the Eagles will all need to be on top of their game this week.
Daley noted, "the (Oyster River) win was especially gratifying in that we played so well being shorthanded, without several key players."
The Eagles receive little rest in a jam-packed regular season week finale. They are scheduled to travel to Bow (5-5-1, ninth) on Tuesday (4 p.m.),and follow up within 24 hours with a trip through Pinkham Notch, for a twice-postponed makeup game against the Berlin Mountaineers (6-5, seventh in Division III), who always provide a stiff test on their home field.
Friday the Eagles hope to rise to the occasion of Senior Game — the last regular-season home game for Drummond, Shaw, Faith Downing, Josie Phaneuf, Glennys Chambers, C.J. MacDonald and goalie Hannah Frittenberg. Prior to 4 p.m. match with Plymouth (5-7), the seniors will be recognized for their commitment and dedication to the program.
In addition, the host Eagles will be wearing pink in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Eleven of 17 teams will book their passage to the Division II playoff at the end of this week. With five top Division II seedings receiving byes, the Eagles hope to maintain or improve on their current position. It’s tight atop the league table — as of Monday, Derryfield (12-0-1) was in first, followed by Souhegan (12-1), Kennett (10-1), Hanover (11-1-1) and Pelham (9-3).
The Eagles are the leading defensive team in the division and are ranked No. 1 in the Granite State after posting 10 shutouts and allowing just two goals (both in a 2-1 overtime loss at Derryfield on Sept. 24).
Derryfield boasts the No. 1 offense 60-4. University of Michigan commitment Lindsey Stagg leads the state with 24 goals.