Southern Regional Girls Soccer Squad Off to Fast Start at 2-0

Sep 12, 2018
Photo by: David Biggy Southern Shayna Kenduck (7) celebrates with teammates after scoring the Rams’ second goal in an 8-1 drubbing of Manchester on Sept. 6.

Southern Regional girls soccer coach Kaitlyn Hartkopf knows the season is long enough to not get overly excited about her team’s 2-0 start.

“It doesn’t necessarily mean anything,” Kartkopf said following the Rams’ 8-1 rout of Manchester on Sept. 6. “Starting off with two wins is good because it gives our younger players some confidence. But the big stuff is still coming; that’s when we’ll see what we’re really made of.”

After crushing Atlantic Tech, 7-0, on Sept. 4, the Rams took little time pressing the attack against the Hawks. During the third minute, Sarah Harkness pounced on a loose ball just outside the goalkeeper’s box and delivered it into the left corner of the goal, just under the crossbar, for a 1-0 lead.

About 11 minutes later, Shayna Kenduck ran onto a ball played ahead by Megan Lockwood, carried to the top of the penalty area and drilled a shot into the left corner for the eventual game-winner. Just over eight minutes later, the Rams struck for the third time in the first half when Brooke Kline worked the ball into the penalty area, outmaneuvered a defender and poked the ball into the right corner.

“We usually start games a bit slow,” said senior captain Maddie Johnson. “It usually takes us a good part of the first half to get going. That’s typically one of our weaknesses, but our speed is one of our strengths. So if we can get some of our players one-versus-one with a defender or the goalkeeper, we really do well.”

Southern went into halftime with a 3-1 lead – Nicole Trimarchi scored Manchester’s only goal with 1:51 left in the first half – but came out in the second with guns blazing, as the Rams utilized their speed up front to continually get behind the Hawks’ defense. After a corner kick a few minutes into the half yielded nothing, Kelsey Hemenway just missed the goal a minute later after getting by the defense on the left flank.

But during the 45th minute, Grace Rickards took a ball from Lockwood, went by the right fullback and got in on the keeper, who charged out to cut down the angle on a shot. Rickards calmly slipped the ball across the penalty area, where Lockwood ran onto it with no defender within 10 yards of her. Lockwood buried the ball into the back of the net for a 4-1 lead.

Four minutes later, Rickards ran onto a ball pushed through the defense by Lockwood about 30 yards away from goal, but Rickards left her mark behind and delivered a shot from 19 yards into the left corner. Brooke Kline made it 6-1 about 15 minutes later when she got behind the defense on a through-ball and fired a shot into the net from 20 yards.

Riley Schoka buried the Rams’ seventh goal when Lockwood’s shot bounced off the post and Schoka poked it into the goal. Harkness capped the scoring with her second goal of the contest with 3:30 to go.

“We lost 11 seniors last year, but we had a lot of really strong younger players come up to the varsity team this season,” said senior Kali Budd. “A lot of our sophomores and juniors, who have played together for a couple of years, contributed a lot today.”

Against Atlantic Tech in the Rams’ opener, Lockwood had a pair of goals and two assists, while Rickards, Kline, Ashley Altman, Stefani Leonard and Kayla Singiser each scored once. Kline also had two assists.

Still, Budd knows the schedule will bring tougher games starting this week.

“These were good warmup games for us,” she said. “But our division is tough, and we’re going to have to make adjustments when we go up against the really good teams on our schedule. The big thing for us is going to be staying calm and playing relaxed.”

So far, Johnson said, she and her teammates are ready to take on the best of the Shore Conference Class A South division. Last season, Toms River North was the cream of the crop, and the Mariners should be the team to beat again this season.

“We’ve been communicating very well so far,” Johnson said. “And we have to keep doing it because that’s what makes the game work. We’re super fast all around the field and we have good chemistry, and we can use that to our advantage. But we still have to work well together, communicate and play smart soccer.”

— David Biggy

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