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Despite losing more than half of its starting lineup among ten players total to graduation, Newtown High School’s girls’ soccer team is already experiencing the midseason-form winning ways Coach Marc Kenney has grown accustomed to.
The Nighthawks blanked Kolbe Cathedral of Bridgeport 8-0 on September 8, got past Watertown 5-3 the next night, then topped Notre Dame-Fairfield 3-1 on September 11. All three contests were on the road as Newtown begins the campaign with four consecutive tilts away from home, culminating with a Thursday, September 14 visit to Bethel at 4 pm.
“I’m pleasantly surprised. The key for us is going to be longevity. The start is only as good as it is at the end,” said Kenney, suggesting the winning ways out of the gate will only be significant if the Nighthawks continue to be this strong late in the campaign as they head into the playoffs.
Given the roster turnover, Kenney came into the season believing in his players, but not knowing how quickly they would adapt to all of the change.
So far, so good.
“It’s a testament to my JV coach [Laura McLean], it’s a testament to my kids who come in prepared,” Kenney said after his team defeated Notre Dame behind a pair of goals and an assist from sophomore midfielder Karsen Pirone, playing her first game of the season while battling a back injury — a disc pushing on a nerve.
Pirone is willing to battle through some pain to be a part of this new-look lineup because of her love of the game and for her teammates.
“It’s amazing,” Pirone said of the team’s strong start. “I love all these girls. We became really close and we’re like one big family,” Pirone said.
A big soccer family in which the contributions come from many.
In the win over Kolbe, Sydney Howard had three goals and an assist, Kaley Meisenheimer netted two goals, Emma Curtis and Faith O’Hara each registered a goal and an assist, and Sarah Houle added a pair of assists.
Against Watertown, Curtis had a hat-trick, adding an assist to her three-goal performance, Grace Corcoran notched two goals and an assist, and Carly Swierbut, Houle, and O’Hara each added helpers.
In the Notre Dame game, in addition to Pirone scoring twice, Swierbut scored, and Curtis and Swierbut recorded assists. O’Hara was robbed on a golden chance, and Pirone nearly added a third goal as Newtown’s forwards threaded the needle on passes to generate good looks at the goal.
“I think when we can spread it around a little bit it benefits us because opposing teams can’t key in on one player,” Kenney notes.
The coach has been pleased with the efforts of some newcomers.
“I have been really impressed by the play of sophomore Laura Augenbraun, who is starting at sweeper for us. She was on JV last year and has fit into the group well. She is very good individual defender, understands what we are trying to do tactically, and offers communication that helps her other defenders. All of this has sort of taken shape with no previous varsity experience. Also, the play of outside back Hannah Daly has been a nice surprise. We moved her to the back after playing last season in the midfield. She has emerged as one of our best on-the-ball defenders. She gets into the attack where she is able to provide quality service to our forwards. Those two, coupled with Keeley and Cassidy Kortze, have started to blend well,” Kenney said.
Newtown will host New Fairfield on Tuesday, September 19, in the team’s first home contest, to be played at Treadwell Park, beginning at 4 pm. After a Friday, September 22, visit to Brookfield at 5:30 pm, the Hawks will play their first game under the lights at Blue & Gold Stadium when Bunnell of Stratford visits for a Tuesday, September 26 clash, starting at 7 pm.
Read the full article in the September 15 print edition of The Bee.