Kent, Parrish boot Pocomoke in season opener, 1-0

Martin Parrish, foreground, made an immediate impact for Kent County in the spring of 2021, scoring twice in his high school debut and totaling six goals in his first five matches.

WORTON — Sophomore forward Martin Parrish’s unassisted goal in the 75th minute held up as host Kent County held off Pocomoke, 1-0, in the first boys soccer match of the season for both schools Sept. 8.

The Trojans defeated the Warriors for the first time since their 2011 season opener.

Parrish beat the keeper one-on-one with a shot taken at about the 18.

After Kent got a possession change at midfield, the ball was pushed through to Parrish, who carried it wide and then cut inside to set up the shot.

Parrish led 5-5-1 Kent in scoring last season with seven goals and three assists.

Coach Patrick Jones said the sides were evenly matched, with both possessing the ball well.

“Pocomoke is always well coach and disciplined, but they couldn’t finish,” said Jones.

Kent’s coach said the play of outside backs Conner Dean and Alystair McKenzie and Jack Cullum in the middle was the difference in the match as they did an excellent job in shutting down Pocomoke’s scoring chances.

This was probably Dean’s best performance ever, Jones said of the senior defender.

Ronald Parker (five saves) pitched the shutout.

Kent started with three players on the back line but added another in the second half, giving freshman Ethan Clark game experience at a center back position that needs to be filled.

Coach Patrick Jones said freshman Nick Stead played well in his varsity debut, moving the ball nicely in the midfield with seniors Nickolas Jones and Yahir Fernandez-Ochoa.

Will Maier and Will Speakman provided the wide play from midfield, while Parrish and classmate Jack Walters played up front and put together several good scoring opportunities.

Freshman Jace Conner also played well off the bench at striker in his first varsity match.

Senior Jose Vela, junior Cristian Esteban and sophomore Brady Sutton — all midfielders — also played really well off the bench, according to coach Jones.

Patrick Jones returns for a sixth year as head coach, and has help again from assistant Tom Speakman.

Kent has a 20-player roster, led by seniors Cullum, Dean, Fernandez-Ochoa, Nickolas Jones, McKenzie, Parker, Giovanni Reyes and Vela.

The newcomers include freshmen Clark, Conner, John Hinton (defender) Gavin Larrimore (goalie) and Stead.

Junior defender Dender Arrieta is back after opting not to play in the pandemic-shortened spring campaign.

Jones said Kent had a good preseason, which included 40-minute matches against three Cecil County schools in an Aug. 19 play day at Elkton.

The first day of practice with the full roster was Tuesday, Sept. 7 — the day before the first match.

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