CONWAY — The Kennett High boys’ soccer team capped off the Homecoming action in style on Saturday afternoon with a 2-0 victory over visiting rivals Kingswood in the first leg of the local derby this season.
The win came on the heels of a tough 2-1 setback to Plymouth under the lights in Gary Millen Stadium on Tuesday. It was a contest where the Eagles certainly deserved at least a share of the points on the night.
Saturday’s win lifted Kennett to 2-8 in Division II play and into 16th in the 18-team league.
Kingswood slipped to 0-9 with the defeat.
The Eagles controlled play early and were rewarded for their efforts with two first-half goals. Ethan Clay-Storm and Jimmy McCarthy each found the back of the net for Coach Dave Hart’s team.
Against Plymouth (4-3-1), the Eagles were looking to avenge a 3-1 defeat to the Bobcats in Plymouth on Aug. 30. The hometown flock looked good early and created a few promising scoring opportunities. The first came just 2:30 into the match when Riley Hayes sent a nice low cross from the right-wing to the top of the penalty area that Alex Clark ran onto and one-timed a shot that went just wide of the right goal post,
Less than a minute later, Clay-Storm came close on a shot from 25 yards out that went just over the crossbar.
Plymouth, to its credit, counterattacked well all night. In the eighth minute, the Bobcats got behind the Kennett defense but were stymied by a fantastic save by Reilly Murphy deflecting a shot off the crossbar to safety.
The Bobcats took the lead with 29:07 left in the first half, cashing in on a counterattack down the left side that led to a cross into the penalty area and a shot from four yards just outside the diving reach of Murphy.
Kennett appeared to have earned a penalty-kick when Clark was brought down from behind in the penalty area with 23:20 left in the half. The referee initially pointed to the penalty spot and Clark prepared to take the kick when the referee changed his call awarding an indirect free-kick.
“We thought it was a PK,” Hart said.
Kennett’s best chance in the opening 40 minutes came 10 minutes from the break when Clay-Storm hit a laser on target that drew a diving save.
Plymouth doubled its lead just before the intermission when a Bobcat appeared to redirect the ball off his arm to another player, who fired on the KHS net from 35 yards out, with the wind at his back, that flew into the top right corner of the net.
“The handball was called unintentional because the referee felt it didn’t affect play,” Hart said. “I think it affected the play because it went to a team for a shot.”
Down 2-0, the Eagles were still in the match and getting good play from the back four of Ishaan Wenger, Colby Eastwood, Liam “Virgil” Narducci and Aidan Sherlock.
“I thought we were playing great in the first half,” Hart said. “We were very unlucky.”
In the second half, the Eagles were able to pull a goal back on a fine strike from 30 yards by Wenger after he got the rebound off a free-kick.
“We had a couple more chances and Murph (Reilly Murphy) came up huge with some key saves to keep it a one-goal game,” Hart said, and added, “Overall, I was pleased with the guy's performance. If we come out with that same effort and energy we’ll be fine.”
Kennett has just one match this week, a trip to Durham to play Oyster River (6-2-1) on Thursday at 4:30 p.m.
The Bobcats beat the Eagles 6-0 in Conway on Sept. 3.