Early Goals, Solid Defense Carry Devil Girls To Class D Title
BY STEVE HEATON
POTSDAM - Nothing is earned without heartbreak, sweat and a little luck along the way. For the Hammond Girls Soccer team, those factors have came into play this season after a quarter-final setback in the 2018 Section 10 Class D Tournament to Edwards-Knox. On Tuesday, the Red Devils reclaimed spot among soccer elite with a 2-0 Section 10 Class D Championship victory over the Cougars in the 2019 title game to improve to 18-1 overall - and earn a Saturday meeting with Section 7 power Chazy at 1 p.m. at Beekmantown High School. "This is something special," said Hammond Coach Shawn Dack. " The girls definitely earned this championship from day one to now. They've done everything asked of them. 18-1 is magical and we've got possibly got more ahead. It's just an awesome experience for them." Hammond's only loss of the season came to Section III Class B power South Jefferson 8-4 in the championship game of the Harrisville Preseason Tournament and since the Red Devils have been on a tear outscoring its opponents 65-11. On Tuesday, Kelsey Bennett delivered her 38th and 39th goals of the season - her eighth and ninth in three sectional games - on key strikes after E-K threatened with a direct kick from Lucy Frary. Bennett scored the first goal of the game with 29:21 remaining in the first half taking a cross from right side from Avery Kenyon, who had separated herself from a defender, and placing a perfect one-timed shot on goal. Just a second over two minutes later, Bennett connected from 18 yards out sniping a low shot inside the left goal post after controlling a pass from Hailey Cunningham. "It feels amazing," said Bennett. "We knew coming into the season we had a lot of potential. Coach (Shawn) Dack has taught us a lot from a young age and we all love the sport. Winning and advancing to the states is awesome. Avery (Kenyon) delivered some great crosses today and I know if we get marked up in our next game that Hailee Manning will step up and get the rebounds. Defensively, we knew who we needed to mark up. We did that well with our fullbacks in Jordan Kloepping and Caitlyn Cunningham and sweeper-stopper duo of Norah Pease and Zoey Cunningham. And Alyvia (Crosby) is always solid. I am just super proud." And coach Dack agreed. "Tonight, our defense was spot on. We got the two goals early. And deterred every Edwards-Knox run from there. I’m so very proud of them. And Alyvia Crosby made a couple of nice stops at the end. She is the best goalie in Section 10," Dack added. Crosby ended the game with four stops and Ali Matthews handled six shots for the Cougars who grouped defensively allowing the early goals.
AWARDS: Following the game the Hammond duo of Avery Kenyon and Norah Pease were honored as the NAC West Offensive and Defensive MVPs and E-K Coach Patty Taylor was honored as the division's Coach of the Year...Kelsey Bennett and sweeper Zoey Cunningham of Hammond also made the First Team and E-K scoring leaders Abby Hart and Lucy Frary also made the First Team....Second Team selection went to Hailey Manning and Hailey Cunningham of Hammond and Hailey Matthews and Karina Benzel from E-K.