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Kennett blanks Downingtown East in District field hockey opener

KENNETT SQUARE—Monday night during the Ches-Mont American champ Kennett’s  opening round match in the District 1, Class 3A championships, the No. 11 Blue Demons looked like a team that wasn’t simply happy to be there, but one believing they can make a run deep in the tourney.

Steph Oleykowski moves into the circle on the way to the first goal of the game (BILL RUDICK for MediaNews Group)

Kennett found the back of the cage before two minutes were off the clock, and never looked back, cruising to a 4-0 shutout of No. 22 Downingtown East.

“This is a great win for us,” said Kennett coach Meghan Shumway. “Playing the way we did gives us confidence moving into the next round that if we play the way we’re capable, we can keep moving on.”

Barely a minute had passed after the opening whistle when the Blue Demons forced a penalty corner. The insert went to Emma Schwarz, who dished off to Steph Oleykowski. Olyekowski slammed it home for the early 1-0 lead.

“One of our goals coming into this game was to force a corner in the first two minutes,” said Shumway. “We did that, and converted it. These girls are improving every time they step on the field.”

The quick goal set the pace for the half, as Kennett dominated possessions for most of the early going. Downingtown East didn’t see its first corner until well past the halfway mark of the period.

“It really helped boost the positive energy,” said Oleykowski. “We came out strong and kept up that momentum.”

A little more than three minutes later, Kennett struck again. Devan Johnson brought the ball up the right side, and into the circle, when she made a nice pass across the front of the goal to Ainsley Albert. Albert grabbed it, slipped in the easy shot behind the drawn goalie, and it was 2-0 before the Cougars knew what hit them.

Devan Johnson gets out in front of Lauren Siecazkowski before making a pass across the goal (BILL RUDICK for MediaNews Group)

“Our connections all night were really on,” said Shumway. “We need to be able to transition the ball and wear teams down, and we did a nice job of that tonight.”

Kennett added a pair of second half goals, a penalty stroke from Oleykowski, and Schwarz found the back of the cage unassisted. Meanwhile, the Demon defensive unit played lights out all night.

“We came out with great intensity,” said Schwarz. “This was a great team effort. Our freshman goalie, Maddie Sears, has been great all year, and our defenders like Jordyn (McMillan) and Mia Gruce are so strong in the backfield. We all work really well together.”

Up next for Kennett (15-4) is a trip to Souderton, to take on the No. 6 Indians.

Emma Schwarz battles with Paige Wolfe (BILL RUDICK for MediaNews Group)

“We are really looking forward to playing against some higher level teams to see how far we’ve progressed since the beginning of the season,” said Shumway. “We’re going to have to deal with Souderton’s speed, and keep our transition game going the way we did tonight, and I think we can be successful.”

The Cougars’ season comes to a close, with a record of 7-10-2.

“I am very proud of the girls in getting to the district playoffs,” said East coach Sarah Keer. “I hope the younger players remember this feeling, both the pride in getting here, and the pain of going home earlier than any of us wanted. Hopefully, that will bring them hungry for more next season, and to take the next step.”

D-Town East 0 0 –0
Kennett 2 2 –4

Goals: Oleykowski (2), Albert, Schwarz

Goalie saves: Irwin (DE) 11, Sears (K) 6

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