Daniels adds scoring potential to her soccer résumé

Kent junior Livy Daniels, a backup goalie, scored in her varsity debut as a field player March 16 at North Dorchester.

HURLOCK — There is more to Livy Daniels’ game than blocking and batting away shots.

Daniels is the backup to goalie Alana Fithian Wilson, the Trojans’ reigning team MVP, which means that she’s not likely to get a lot of playing time as a keeper.

So Daniels came into her junior season committed to improving her field skills, with a thought that she might get some minutes as a defender or outside midfielder.

The effort has not gone unnoticed or unrewarded.

Daniels made her varsity debut as a field player March 16, and it was memorable. She started as the left forward and scored what held up as the insurance goal in Kent’s 5-0 drubbing of host North Dorchester.

“She has been working hard in practice, hustling to get to the ball, keeping the intensity up, and just an overall confidence in her that I hadn’t seen before,” Kent coach Rachael Gugasian said of Daniels.

“When we scrimmaged and did scoring drills in practice, she stood out as someone I thought could score or be there to get the rebounds,” Gugasian added. “I also think Liv has an edge because she played in goal before and knows a keeper’s mentality. It helps her to figure out how to maneuver up top.”

The Trojans improved to 4-0, winning three matches by shutout and outscoring their collective opponents, 18-1.

Against North Dorchester, Gracie Walters put Kent on the scoreboard in the sixth minute when she reacted quickly to knee in the rebound of a shot that was taken by Cecilia Llamas.

Daniels’ goal, off a crossing pass from Megan Speakman, made it 2-0 in the 10th minute.

Leah Maier, Gracie Walters and Speakman scored in succession in the 65th, 68th and 75th minute, respectively.

Speakman had the assist on Maier’s goal (her first) and completed the scoring on a breakaway. Gracie Walters’ second-half goal was set up by Emma Walters.

Fithian Wilson needed to make only three saves to preserve the shutout.

Kent, which travels with 18 players, cleared its bench.

“We dominated the game and played on their side of the field for the majority of each half,” Gugasian said.

She credited Maddy Kendall and Olivia Jones with distributing the ball to open spaces while holding down the middle of the field.

Kent fired off 41 shots and had several breakaways, but had difficulty finding the back of the net.

Gugasian said goalie Erin Riggin (29 saves) was North Dorchester’s best player.

It was a physical match, with tensions heightened between the two sides once Kent built its early 2-0 lead.

Gugasian said she was pleased with how the Trojans came out in the second half with more composure.

“I was proud of the way they were able to change their mentality to focus on making better plays and scoring additional goals,” Gugasian said.

The level of competition was much steeper last week against Class 2A Queen Anne’s, Kent Island and Easton.

Kent County (4-3) lost all three matches by shutout.

The 6-0 loss at home to Easton on March 25 was the best effort of the week.

“Even though the score may not show it, we played more like ourselves,” Gugasian told the Kent County News.

Daniels (11 saves) and Ally Berghaus (seven saves) split time in the goal. They were called upon because Fithian Wilson was sidelined with an injury suffered March 22 against Queen Anne’s.

Daniels (career-high 17 saves) went the distance March 23 at Kent Island.

“We’re putting last week behind us,” Gugasian said.

She anticipates a strong finish; three of the remaining four matches are against schools Kent already has defeated once.

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