Kent lacrosse closing in on region’s top seed

WORTON — Shrugging off what coach Tom Speakman described as a “complacent” second quarter, Kent County scored six unanswered goals in a run that bridged the third and fourth quarters to put North Caroline in the rearview mirror Wednesday afternoon.

Senior Martin Parrish scored back-to-back to get things started and junior Ethan Clark was three-and-one during the run, which put the Trojans on track for a 16-8 victory.

Clark (two assists) and Parrish (three assists) finished with seven and five goals, respectively.

Clark recorded career highs in goals and points.

His line also included six won face-offs and a team-best five ground balls.

Also for the winners, Will Speakman was two-and-two, Landon Wallace was one-and-one and Jack Fry contributed a goal.

The Trojans improved to 5-6, eclipsing the win totals for each of the last two seasons and a huge turnaround from the 0-8 campaign of 2021 that was this year’s seniors’ freshman year.

A win Friday at home in the regular-season finale should  give them the top seed in the Class 1A East Region II tournament that begins next week.

On Wednesday, North Caroline (5-6) scored 20 seconds in after winning the opening face-off.

KCHS pulled even about two minutes later when Wallace found Speakman at the doorstep on the right side.

Parrish, unassisted, gave the Trojans their first lead at 2-1 with 4 minutes, 44 seconds remaining in the first frame.

North Caroline won the ensuing face-off and, nine seconds later, put the ball in the back of the net for the second — and last — tie of the game.

Fry’s quasi-quick stick score from the top of the crease — he had to leave his feet to catch a short pass from Wallace — restored the Trojans’ lead for good, 3-2, with 3:48 to play in the opening stanza.

Landon, from Clark, doubled the advantage just 24 seconds later.

Parrish whipped in a laser shot that made it 5-2 at the 2:14 mark and Clark’s man-up goal, off the assist from Parrish, with 30.4 seconds remaining produced a 6-3 lead at the end of one quarter.

The spread was 7-3 with just a minute gone in the second quarter courtesy of another Parrish-to-Clark hookup.

And then the Trojans’ offense went stone cold for the next 10 and a half minutes as North Caroline closed to 7-6.

Kent County’s scoring drought ended with just 39 seconds remaining before intermission after Clark, on a solo run, juked his defender with a series of head fakes.

“We were feeling good. We got complacent,” coach Tom Speakman said of the Trojans’ quiet second quarter. 

“A two-goal lead in lacrosse is nothing. It’s scary, and at halftime we talked about bringing the intensity up.”

It got even scarier for the Trojans when their guests scored just 33 seconds into the second half to make it a one-goal game, 8-7.

Kent County responded by scoring the next six goals, a game-turning run that started with Parrish’s man-up tally — off a look from Speakman — with just under nine minutes remaining in the third quarter.

Parrish’s fourth goal of the afternoon was a beauty, a series of dodges setting up a left-handed bounce shot with 4:02 to play in the period. 

With a flag on the other end of the field for a personal foul, Clark, who subsequently was bopped in the helmet, closed out the third-quarter scoring with a behind-the-back shot that beat the goalie low with just seconds remaining.

The Bulldogs started the final frame down a man, and Clark made them pay just 16 seconds in.

Clark set up Speakman with 10:54 remaining and then finished off the 6-0 run with an unassisted goal that stretched the lead to 14-7 with eight minutes and change remaining.

With Kent County in the box serving a one-minute penalty, North Caroline scored what would be its last goal with 7:19 to play.

Clark zigged and zagged for his career-high seventh goal of the day at 5:05, and then Parrish on an extra-man chance nonchalantly rolled in what would prove to be the final goal with 1:41 remaining, 

After turnovers were committed by both teams, the Trojans regained possession with 61 seconds to play. Up two men for some of that time, they simply passed around the ball until time expired.

Aside from the second-quarter letdown, coach Speakman was pleased with the Trojans’ effort.

He said he saw “a lot of good things” from first-year lacrosse players Brady Sutton, Nick Stead and Bryce Jacobs.

“We’re leaning on them a lot to give (midfielders) Martin, Ethan and Landon a break,” Tom Speakman said

The coach also handed out high marks to freshman long-stick middie Gabe Parr.

Underclassman David Daniels continues to improve in his first year as the starting goalie. He was credited with seven saves, all but two of those in the first half.

NOTES: Kent County closes out the regular season at home Friday, May 3 against Cambridge-South Dorchester. The opening face-off is at 5 p.m.

It’s the Trojans’ senior game.

A win should pin down the top seed in the upcoming 1A East Region II tournament.

Bo Manor (5-6) currently sits in second, followed by Southern of Anne Arundel (4-7) and Cambridge (1-6).

KCHS defeated Bo Manor there in the season opener, 15-4.


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