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Kenneally’s goal lifts Radnor over Ridley

RIDLEY TWP. — Thursday’s Central League field hockey match was barely a minute old when Ridley’s Emily Johnston embarked on a mesmerizing solo run, carrying the ball down the right wing and sending a pass through a maze of bodies and sticks in front of the Radnor cage.

Just as quickly, Radnor headed the other way with Lydia Sydnor’s breakaway thwarted by a great poke check by Green Raider defender Kristin Saraceni.

And so it went, Ridley methodically building possession after possession, constantly buzzing Radnor netminder Kylee Rutty, only to see the visitors come up with a blocked shot or an errant pass and head the other way with speed and numbers.

It appeared the two squads could have thrust and parried into the wee hours, but instead Lexi Kenneally drove home a blast from just inside the top of the circle on a penalty corner with 4 minutes, 10 seconds remaining in regulation to give Radnor a 2-1 win.

“I was definitely hoping for the game to be over,’ said Kenneally, citing the sticky, humid conditions and the ice bag covering her left thumb.

First-year coach Ashlee Bailey was particularly happy to see the outcome salted away in the Ridley end, when Radnor (2-4 overall, 2-1 league) effectively killed off the final two minutes with three consecutive penalty corners.

“I’m really proud of our defense, they played so hard and cleared the ball out nicely,’ Bailey said. “I think we created four or five defensive saves, and I can’t say enough about our goalie. Every practice Kylee does a little bit better and every game she’s done a nice job.’

Rutty had to be quick on her feet, sliding post to post to turn back a dozen shots, and — as coach Bailey pointed out — she also was picked up by her teammates.

Ridley had pulled even 5 minutes, 11 seconds into the second half when Taylor Eubanks tipped home Kerri Flynn’s shot, igniting a barrage that looked to end with the Green Raiders ahead. But when a shot squirted between Rutty’s pads with just over 13 minutes remaining, Radnor’s Natalie Junior was there to pick the ball off the goal line.

“I think (Ridley’s ball possession) shook us a little bit in the first five or 10 minutes, but then I had told the girls what to expect,’ Bailey said.

Bailey also stresses physical fitness, saying, “I believe if we can outrun a team we can win the game.’

Radnor’s Katie Quinn took those words to heart when she single-handedly produced the game’s first goal, beating a defender one-on-one at midfield, carrying the ball down the left sideline and then crossing to the front of the cage where she buried a shot into the right-hand side with 59 seconds to go in the first half.

“I think we’re a really fit team and we really needed our fastbreaks today,’ Quinn said. “We have a great forward line, always passing give-and-go’s, playing the big ball and getting downfield to take the shot.’

Ridley (4-2, 1-2) had plenty of shots, 22 to be exact, and more than a handful appeared destined for the back of the cage.

“We just couldn’t finish today,’ first-year coach Karen Snyder said, the disappointment of the close chances dominating her thoughts.

“Inches, inches in both directions,’ she continued. “You’ve got to give Radnor’s defense a lot of credit, because when the ball got through their goalie they were there to back her up. But we’ve got to get that last touch on the ball and get it in. We just didn’t pounce like we needed to.’

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