CONWAY — The Kennett High field hockey team had a successful Homecoming weekend. The Eagles defeated Carroll County rivals Kingswood 3-1 before a large enthusiastic crowd at Centola Field on Saturday. They continued their winning ways with an impressive 2-0 defeat of visiting Oyster River on Tuesday.
The wins lifted Kennett to 5-2 on the season and keeps it in the hunt to host a home playoff game next month. The hometown flock is on a mission.
“Don’t stop until it’s done” is the mantra of this year’s field hockey team. The Eagles return a talented lineup and look to make a deep playoff run this fall behind the leadership of new varsity Coach Amanda Werner who moves up from the junior varsity to take over the varsity coaching duties from Cassie Daley, who retired following the 2021 season.
Joining Werner on the sidelines is new JV Coach Chrissy Coffield, a former four-year standout for the Eagles who played at Colby Sawyer College.
Werner, who grew up in New Jersey, and played collegiately at UMass Lowell, is in her second year with the program and is excited about her team.
“We’re still relatively young,” she said, “so we should be solid for another couple of years. It’s been a good, but quick preseason. The girls are excited about this season.”
In 2021, in a rematch of the 2020 Division II field hockey championship game, this time the ball bounced Souhegan’s way in the state quarterfinals. The No. 3 seeded Sabers topped No. 6 Kennett 2-1 behind a pair of fourth-quarter goals in Amherst on Oct. 22.
“Last year, we felt like we ran out of energy (in the fourth quarter),” said Werner. “Our team slogan is ’don’t stop until it’s done,’ and that means to push through until the final whistle. These girls have a lot of potential.”
Kennett finished its season 10-5-1 last year.
The Eagles lost seniors Molly Arnold, Arielle Butterfield, Veronica Carboni, Caroline Coleman, Ella Fecteau, Taylor Gaudette, Brynne Gove, Jordan Meir and Lily Orth to graduation last June.
Members of this year’s varsity team are seniors Leah Alkalay, Tessa Capozzoli, Morgan Carr, Grace Gagne, Sydney Graziano, Vivian Rober-Carpenter and Remi Snowdon; juniors Georgia Coleman, Ava Gaudette, Nora Goodman, Sophia Hanson, Allie Hussey, Eliana Newton and Madison Walcott; sophomores Ava Fox, Ellie Nelson and Cami Newton; and freshmen Raegan Armstrong, Grier Carrier and Emma Dziedzic.
Members of the junior varsity team include sophomores Ava Fox, Hannah King, Cassidy Littlefield, Mia Mohla, Dani Sewell and Avery Whitelaw; and freshmen Emme Couture, Lily Couture, Kallyn Ewing, Marley Hooper, Sophia Mihelis, Annabel Newton, Olivia Schmitt and Abigail Smith.
There are two captains — Capozoli and Snowdon — and three honorary captains in Rober-Carpenter and juniors Gaudette and Hussey.
“They all are good leaders,” Werner said. “Their teammates respect them so much. It’s a little different to have so many, but they have all shown such a great commitment.”
Kennett returns a host of veterans, including three All-State performers. Capozzoli and Walcott, who was a forward and the goalie, respectively, made All-State, First-Team, while Hussey was named All-State, Second-Team as a standout in the midfield for the Eagles last fall.
Werner said Capozzoli will shift from the front line to an attacking midfield role this fall, while Hussey will be the defensive midfielder. The two will be stalwarts in the center of the field for the Eagles.
Alkalay, Newton and Carrier, one of three freshmen on the varsity squad, will see action as outside halfbacks. Carr, who is recovering from a torn ACL, hopes to be back on the field in time for a long playoff run.
“I think the strength of this team is that we have a great field hockey IQ and vision,” said Werner. “Plus, we have Madison back in goal for the third year. She did absolutely amazing last year and has only gotten better. We also have our whole defense back in Nora (Goodman), Remi (Snowdon) and Ava (Gaudette).”
Freshmen Armstrong, who plays midfield and up front, and Dziedzic, another forward, have turned heads with their play this preseason and will only strengthen this year’s team.
Scoring goals should not be a problem for the Eagles. Rober-Carpenter was a regular on the scoresheet last season and Hanson and Coleman also have a nose for the net.
Kennett, which currently sits in eighth in the Division II standings, looked impressive at home against Kingswood (1-4-1) for Homecoming. The Eagles look said at both ends of the field on got goals from Georgia Coleman in the first quarter, Sophia Hanson in the second quarter and Ava Gaudette in fourth period to secure the win.
Coach Werner credited teamwork as the key to victory.
“Everyone did their jobs and worked really well together moving the ball up the field,” she said, adding “Tessa (Capozzoli) stepped up for us big in the midfield.”
KHS dominated Oyster River (4-2) on Tuesday behind goals from birthday girl Rober-Carpenter and Armstrong along with a smothering defensive effort.
The wins came on the heels of a tough 3-2 overtime loss north of Pinkham Notch to Berlin (4-3) on Sept. 13. In a see-saw contest, Coleman and Rober-Carpenter netted the goals for KHS.
Werner believes this can be a special season for the Eagles.
“I think we can be a very good team as long as we continue to put things together and stay healthy,” she said.
Kennett is scheduled to close out this week with another Saturday game. The Eagles are slated to travel to Laconia (1-7) on Saturday for a 9 a.m. start.
KHS has two key matches on the schedule next week, both at home, against Bow (0-3-1) on Tuesday (4 p.m.) and with Portsmouth (7-0) on Sept. 30 at 4:15 p.m.
Portsmouth currently sits atop the Division II table at 7-0 followed by 6-0 John Stark and Souhegan. The Clippers have outscored their opponents 34-1 while posting six shutouts.