Hammond Girls Note Repeat; Lisbon Looks Ahead
BY DAVE SHEA
Hammond was irrepressible in the final leg of its journey toward a second straight perfect NAC West Girls Soccer season in Saturday morning's game at Lisbon Central School.
The Red Devils (10-0-0) scored three times in the first half and opened a 4-0 lead 12 minutes into the second half but the 8-3-1 Golden Knights, who had not allowed a goal in an eight-game unbeaten streak, carried their cause to the finish scoring three times in the final 12 minutes in the 5-3 decision.
After coming back from a COVID-19 quarantine Hammond won five games in seven days and closed the season with three games in three days.
"To play the way they do and to WIN 5 games in 7 days, and play 3 in a row, and the last team we play was Lisbon (who is an amazing team in their own right) was a HUGE gut check, HEART check moment. And our team pride and belief in each other really showed today.
I just can't tell you how PROUD I am of them all....watching them today was utter joy for me. It is just upsetting we didn't get a chance to play for the class D playoffs and possible final 4 run," said Hammond Coach Shawn Dack.
"Covid took that away for the fall and I pray it doesn't for winter sports. I hope everyone listens, learns and is aware that the decisions they make take away experiences and opportunities for others. Being a little mindful goes a long ways."
Senior Avery Kenyon capped a high scoring career with four goals including the first two where she connected from Hailee Manning in the sixth minute and Brooklyn Arquitt in the 19th minute.
Hannah Belknap rounded out the first half scoring which came off quick counters and strong shots from outside the 18 yardline after the Devils broke up clearing attempts.
Kenyon completed a hat trick 12 minutes into the second half converting a strong break on goal while warding off a defender completing a threat originating on a through pass by Hailey Cunningham out of the midfield.
Jaylin Massia netted a break-through for Lisbon with 12 minutes to play chipping the ball into the net after Emily Jordan won a race for a loose ball in the crease and pushed it past Red Devil goalie Alyvia Crosby. Hammond answered with Kenyon's fourth goal two minutes later which came off a cross from Landree Kenyon.
Lisbon scored the final two goals in the final four minutes. Jordan netted a perfectly struck direct kick and Ava Murphy booted the ball into the net in a goalmouth scramble.
"Hammond is a powerful and aggressive team and came to Lisbon ready to play. Our girls were a bit intimidated and allowed Hammond to dominate midfield during the first half. In the second half we started to play our game and had a lot more success," said Lisbon Coach Tim Richards.
"Anytime you can put the ball in the net three times is a good game, especially against a team like Hammond. I think coming back with three goals in the second half showed a lot of heart. The coaching staff and the players are already talking about next season, we've got a lot look forward too."
Hammond finished the season with 48 goals scored to only seven allowed and Coach Shawn Dack felt the advantage originated from the defensive play by the backfield of sweeper Zoey Cunningham, stopper Norah Pease, outside fullbacks Kaitlyn Cunningham and Jordan Kloepping and center halfback Hailey Cunningham who was a prime catalyst in the Devils' quick striking transition play.
Alyvia Crosby finished with two saves for Hammond and Grace Smith handled 13 stops for Lisbon.
"I hope I can properly state exactly what these girls deserve to be said about them. Needless to say this isn't where we wanted to end this year. I knew coming in our defense was going to be our savior as we had the core coming back from last years Final 4 season. But the way we all evolved through this year from top to bottom was very encouraging. Every girl was key to every game. To coach at Hammond one must understand that EVERY PLAYER is crucial to TEAM success and they have to be brought along mentally and physically," said Coach Dack.
"Hammond being the smallest school in our section and divisions it is very important to understand that. Almost every school is two or almost three times bigger than us. So they have more to choose from for each team and this years team exemplified that to a tea."
EDWARDS-KNOX 1 - HERMON-DEKALB 0
In one other NAC West Girls soccer final staged on Saturday Edwards-Knox shaded Hermon-DeKalb 1-0.
Kanika Johnson scored the only goal of the game at 13:08 of the first period as the Lady Cougars (3-4-1) overcame a 19-save effort by H-D goalie Emery McQuade. The Green Demons played all but one of their scheduled games finishing at 2-11-0.
Kayleigh Allen posted the shutout for the Cougars.