Kennedy outlasts Lordstown
WARREN — The John F. Kennedy girls soccer team lost a lot of seniors from last season when it finished 11-4-1 and was a Division III district runner-up.
The Eagles have searched for a defensive identity this season and coach Kayla Zoccole thinks they may have found the answer recently.
“This was our second game using a different formation trying to help things in our midfield and it seems to be working,” Zoccole said following Wednesday’s 4-2 win over visiting Lordstown at Paul Esposito Memorial Soccer Field. “We switched some things up and I thought the girls did a pretty good job with it.”
The Eagles improved to 8-7, as Lordstown dropped to 8-6.
“That Lordstown team is super aggressive and super fast and they fight to the end,” Zoccole said. “We took away some of their speed and our goalkeeper, Alexa Chieffo, made some tremendous saves.”
The Red Devils also played a somewhat different strategy to combat the long-distance strikes that Kennedy possesses with the powerful feet of Caitlyn Condoleon and Alissa Scattino.
“Kennedy is a physical team and their goalie is fantastic,” Lordstown coach Matt Kresic said. “It’s also tough to defend against them because you don’t normally face teams that can rip it from distance like they can. So we tried to limit that and not give them clean shots from distance. Overall, I thought we did pretty well.
“Olivia Faler, our sweeper, did a great job. (Kennedy) would have had a lot more shots without her strong play today.”
The game, which was played on a dark, dreary day with an intermittent drizzle, was pretty even statistically. Kennedy outshot Lordstown 21-18. Jacklyn Wilk had 10 saves for Lordstown and Chieffo made nine for Kennedy, many on solid scoring chances for the Red Devils.
Scattino put Kennedy on the board first, scoring with 29:35 left in the first half and Condoleon drilled in the second goal less than two minutes later.
“We were kind of sleeping on the first one, whether we were tired or hadn’t adjusted to the weather, I don’t know,” Kresic said. “But the second one came on one of those great long shots from Condoleon. I think that just changed the game. We got back within 2-1, but then it was just a struggle the rest of the game. It’s tough to catch up from a 2-0 deficit against a good opponent.”
The Red Devils made it 2-1 with 10:55 left in the half as Lexie Ensign displayed her speed by scoring off an assist from Sarah Schneider.
While the Eagles hit the post twice during the second half, they didn’t add some cushion until Myriah Merten scored with 17:47 remaining to take a 3-1 lead.
Minutes after Faler hit a post for the Red Devils, Condoleon made it 4-1 when she scored with an assist from Liano Pagano. Ensign scored the game’s final goal with 7:45 remaining.
“The way the game began, it looked like we could pull away from (Lordstown) early, but I told the girls that’s just probably not going to happen and to keep playing hard,” Zoccole said. “I knew (Lordstown) would play to the end. They fought us every pass. It was a good challenge and it’s good to get those types of games before heading into the (district tournament).”