CONWAY — While the 2019 Kennett High boys’ soccer team tripled its win total from the previous year, the Eagles fell short of their goal of playing in the postseason this fall.
The Eagles went 3-13 (went 1-14-1 in 2018) to finish 15th overall in 18-team Division II standing. Under the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association, 70 percent of the teams in a division qualify for the playoffs. The top 12 teams this fall qualified for the tournament.
Top-seeded ConVal (16-1-2) won the tournament, beating No. 2 Lebanon (16-3) at Manchester Memorial on Saturday. The win avenged a 2-0 loss at Lebanon on Oct. 23.
Offense was hard to come by for Dave Hart’s troops who were outscored 64-15 this season.
Kennet scored three goals just once, but they came in a 3-1 win against rival Kingwood (0-16) in Wolfeboro on Oct. 15.
“It was a good game,” said Hart, adding, “The boys played pretty well.”
The host Knights had the boys from Conway on their heels for the first 10 minutes.
“We had to defend a little bit more out of the gate,” Hart said.
Kennett weathered the storm and took the lead 15 minutes into the match on a shot from freshman Alex Clark, who slid a shot past the diving Kingswood goalie.
Five minutes later, Kingswood drew level.
The second half was all Kennett. The Eagles got the match-winner from Ethan Clay-Storm in the 61st minute.
“It was a great shot from 25 yards,” Hart said. “No one could have saved it.”
Hart said the Eagles “dominated midfield” on the strength of seniors Matt Synnott and Santi Ciro, who helped create Kennett’s final goal in the 73rd minute finished off by Clay-Storm who picked up the brace with his second strike of the night.
Kennett had little time to celebrate the win as it was back in action under the lights at Gary Millen Stadium 24 hours later when Berlin (8-7-1). KHS won the first meeting 2-0 in Berlin on Sept. 10, and the rematch featured end-to-end action for the opening 12 minutes. Goalies Riley “Sheep Dog” Murphy for the Eagles and Shaun Goyette for the Mountaineers were on top of their games making one quality save after another.
“Shaun came up big for them,” Hart said. “We had a couple of good chances early that he came up big on. If we get one or two of those, who knows how things turn out? The result was a surprise and a shocker.”
Berlin took the lead in the 13th minute on a goal by Trevor Breault. The goal seemed to energize the boys from Berlin who went on to put on a clinic on finishing and left town with a 7-0 win that no one saw coming. The match was a whole lot closer than the score indicated.
The Mountaineers went up 2-0 on a Tyler Rousseau goal in the 25th minute; 3-0 in the 34th minute on the goal of the night by Breault, who scored on a half-volley from 25 yards out; and made it 4-0 a minute before halftime on a Ben Estrella header.
Rousseau netted his second of the night to make it 5-0 in the 48th minute. Breault finished his hat-trick nine minutes later, and Rousseau got his third of the match 12 minutes from time.
Kennett created a couple of opportunities in the second half with Clark coming close in the 59th minute with a shot that beat Goyette but went just wide of the far-right post.
Clay-Storm drew Goyette’s best save of the night 15 minutes from time when he uncorked a rocket from 20 yards that appeared destined for the upper left corner of the net but the Berlin junior got a hand on the ball to keep it out.
The Eagles were without full roster for the match due to injury and driver education, which prompted Hart to call up Willem Badger, Jacob Reid and Kyle McManus from the Reserve Team to make their varsity debut.
After a day’s rest, Kennett closed the book on the season with a 7-2 loss at home to Manchester West (9-7) on Oct. 18.
The hometown flock was down to 10 men after just five minutes when the Eagles lost Murphy after a challenge with a West forward outside the box.
“We went down to 10 and went with Adan (Colbath, a freshman),” Hart said. “He made some good saves and had some moments.”
Clay-Storm netted both Kennett goals.
“We work all year-long and talk about the mental side of the game and the importance of not losing our concentration or focus when the score is unfavorable or we get a card,” Hart said. “Our senior guys performed well but it’s hard when you have to play down a man for 75-plus minutes. This was the third game this year where we were down to 10 men.”
Kennett loses Santiago Ciro, Cole Bradley, Calder Mazel, Matt Synnott, Ishaan Wenger, Jimmy McCarthy, Jackson Gordon Snoden Schmitt and Reilly Murphy to graduation in June.
Hart said reserve team Coach Matt Milliken and Assistant Coach Tom Hanks “did a really nice job” in their first seasons on the sidelines for KHS.
“It was great to have their voices and be able to bounce ideas off them,” Hart said.