Oxford edges Kennett in battle between first-year coaches

EAST NOTTINGHAM – The winners were happy and the other side a bit frustrated. But there was an overriding palpable sense on a beautiful Wednesday afternoon in Oxford that it was just good to be out there playing high school soccer despite the coronavirus crisis.

The host Hornets wound up edging Kennett 2-1 in a Ches-Mont girls battle between first-year coaches and two squads looking for the season’s first victory. And after notching what wound up the game-winner, sophomore midfielder Olivia Voss talked about how everybody now better appreciates the opportunity to participate.

“I’m just grateful that we get to play just because of all the things that are happening right now,” she said.  

“We don’t know if we are going to be able to play tomorrow, so we have to make the most it right now.”

Voss scored a goal in the final minute of the first half to put Oxford in front 2-0, and the Hornets held on the rest of the way to give head coach Heather McEneaney her first win at the helm. She was previously the head coach at Twin Valley and is replacing Julie Alleman at the helm.

The Hornets improve to 1-2 overall and in league play after losses to Sun Valley (in overtime) and West Chester Rustin. The Blue Demons, and head coach Tom Cofran, fall to 0-3.

“Sun Valley was a tough loss. So today was big just to get some confidence going into Friday against Unionville, who is always tough,” McEneaney said.

“We didn’t play particularly well,” Cofran added.

Even though scoring chances were tough to come by, Oxford cashed in on a couple chances in the first half, including an important opening goal by speedy sophomore Alyssa Welhoff. It happened midway through the half after Kennett turned it over in its own end.

“It definitely helped us,” McEneaney said. “If you get scored on first, it can create a defeatist attitude a little bit.

“Alyssa is very fast so she can take advantage of those kinds of opportunities. She seems to pick up anything that is loose.”

Just when it looked like it would go into the half at 1-0, Voss took a pass from teammate Cassidy Tower and doubled the lead.

“I just remember dribbling toward the goal, the (Kennett goaltender) gave me some space so I decided to take the shot,” she explained.

The Demons were much more competitive in the second half, and nearly broke through when forward Betty Ferranto had her foot on the ball in front of an open net. But Hornets’ defender Campbell Flemming made the save.

Moments later, however, Kennett final got the goal on a scrambling play by Maddie Sallurday off a corner kick by Nicole Eveland. But it came with less than five minutes on the clock.

“That was nice that they kept fighting right to the end,” Cofran said.

“Nicole (Eveland) has a good leg and she put it right in mix, it bounced around and Maddie got to it.”

Throughout much of the second half, McEneaney repeatedly preached: ‘do not let down,’ to her team. And even though the Demons cut the lead in half, Oxford proceeded to close it out.

“It doesn’t matter what part of the game or what the score is, you can’t lose focus or give up, no matter what,” she said.

“Getting the lead and being able to close it out is something we are working on,” Voss added.

According to Cofran, Kennett had some early issues getting used to the grass field at Oxford. He wound up playing every available player in his 19-player roster.

“We have a young team, it’s our third game together and we aren’t in the kind of playing shape we will eventually be in,” he said. “We are still learning who we have and the girls have to learn to play together.”

Oxford 2, Kennett 1

Kennett                     0 1 – 1

Oxford                       2 0 – 2

Kennett goal: Sallurday.

Oxford goals: Welhoff, Voss.

Goalie saves: Fellows (K) 5; Villagomez (O) 4.

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