KCHS field hockey rebuild is underway

CHESAPEAKE CITY — It’s been a complete graduation cycle since the Trojans raised the Class 1A East Region trophy in 2019, and only seniors Drew Davis, Carly King and Jaci Manning, who were freshmen in the COVID-abbreviated 2020 season, and junior Kate Cannon remain from the 2021 region finalist team.

So, the argument could be made that Kent County High School’s field hockey program is undergoing an extensive rebuild.

The 0-3 start and tiny roster bear that out.

The Trojans dress only 11, which is just enough to fill all positions. That includes freshmen Eliza Loller (midfield) and Taylor Strong (defense) and two sophomores who did not play last year, Aisling Bonass (forward) and McKenna Messick (forward).

The returnees from last year are sophomores Grace Gerstung (forward) and Tess Fuchs (defense), who were brand new to the sport; junior Cannon (forward); and seniors Addisyn Litton (defense), Davis (midfield), King (midfield) and Manning (goalie).

“Obviously we are young and very inexperienced,” said Susan Wright-Taylor, who returns for the eighth year as head coach at alma mater KCHS.

“We are working hard every day, learning, improving and making adjustments,” she said. “We’re seeing growth already.”

All 11 public high schools on the Eastern Shore that have field hockey programs play one another in what is almost exclusively a Bayside Conference schedule. Kent’s other game is against its nearest opponent to the north, Bohemia Manor in Cecil County.

Because Kent is locked into the Bayside schedule, that means it plays some schools with much, much larger enrollments. In fact, Kent plays only a handful of similarly small Class 1A schools — Bo Manor, Crisfield, St. Michaels, defending Bayside Conference champion Washington and perennial state champ Pocomoke — in its 12-game regular season.

The Trojans pulled back the curtain on Friday, Sept. 8 at Bo Manor. They had practiced on that Monday, which was Labor Day, but all outdoor athletic activities at KCHS were cancelled for the next three days because of excessive heat.

No pun intended, but the Trojans kind of went into their first game cold.

Lauren Scott and Gabby Rhoads scored two goals apiece for the host Eagles, who netted a 4-1 victory.

After the two sides played through a scoreless first frame, Scott gave Bo Manor a lead it would not lose with 13 minutes, 58 seconds remaining in the half.

About a minute later, Kent was inches away from tallying the equalizer when Kate Cannon’s hard shot off a penalty corner just missed the stick of Carly King who was posting at the right corner of the cage.

After that, Kent’s senior net-minder Jaci Manning put on a clinic of spectacular saves, including several of the bang-bang-bang variety. She also kicked away a penalty stroke with 10:48 to play in the half.

Scott eventually solved Manning (13 first-half saves) with an aerial shot at the 3:20 mark, sending the Eagles (2-1) into the break with a 2-0 lead. This goal would prove to be the game-winner.

Kent came out the aggressor to start the second half and the offensive pressure ultimately paid off when Grace Gerstung at the left post poked in a crossing pass from Cannon with 6:34 to play in the third quarter.

To keep it a one-goal game, Manning charged off the line to deny Bo Manor on a fast-break with 5:04 remaining in the frame. She made three more saves in succession over the final 30 seconds.

The home team regained the momentum to open the fourth quarter and re-established its two-goal lead, 3-1, with 10:44 to play when Rhoads beat Manning one-on-one.

Four minutes later, Rhoads found the back of the net again.

The 4-1 deficit was too much for Kent to overcome.

The game was delayed an hour because of thunder and lightning in the area. Due to the heat and humidity, the officials stopped play midway through each quarter for water breaks.
Gerstung’s goal in the Bo Manor game is the only score to date for Kent, which has run up against more experienced and deeper opponents in James Bennett (a Class 3A school) and Crisfield.

The Trojans travel to Stephen Decatur, another 3A school, on Thursday, Sept. 21 and St. Michaels on Monday, Sept. 25 before returning home Wednesday, Sept. 27 against Queen Anne’s.

Any related posts will be listed here:

Skip to content