Road trip takes Trojans to happy ending in hockey

Freshman goalie Jaci Manning and senior Annie Page Brocker led Kent County’s defense that allowed only five goals over the final seven games.

ST. MICHAELS — They crushed it.

That’s probably the most direct way to describe how the Trojans wrapped up a field hockey season that was abbreviated due to inclement weather and an ongoing pandemic.

Kent County won the April 15 finale at St. Michaels, 4-0, turning in arguably its most complete performance of the nine-game campaign and a testament to the steady improvement made since beginning the season with back-to-back losses.

Kent finished 4-5, robbed of an opportunity for a .500 season after the last home game against winless North Caroline was rained out twice and then ultimately scrapped.

The April 15 contest at St. Michaels was a reschedule from the end of March, also due to rain.

It was worth the wait for the Trojans, who leveraged advantages of 8-4 in shots and 13-5 in penalty corners into four unanswered goals.

Kendell Ford scored what held up to be the game-winner with 3 minutes, 16 seconds to play before halftime.

All the Trojans’ scoring came as time was expiring — Kate Ervin, from Ford, with 4 seconds to go in the half; Kiera McColigan with just under 2 minutes remaining in the third quarter; and Ford again with all but 17 seconds gone.

Freshman Jaci Manning pocketed the third win by shutout in her young and promising career.

Her classmates Drew Davis, Carly King and Addisyn Litton also made notable contributions. Davis (two assists) and King (one assist) supported the offense, while Litton played the entire second half for the Trojans’ lockdown defense.

Coach Susan Wright-Taylor played everyone, and everyone played well.

But the brightest stars on this day were Kent’s four seniors: forward/midfielder Ervin, defender Annie Page Brocker, midfielder Sella Conner and forward Katie Wade.

In addition to bringing their A game, the seniors lifted up their younger teammates with words of encouragement and virtual pats on the back.

It was a very happy, socially distanced bus ride back to Kent County.

“I think they were excited to be together,” Wright-Taylor said of the season finale and the season in general.

She noted improvement in individual skills and teamwork.

“I would have liked to have had a few more wins, since we were so close,” Wright-Taylor said, referencing the fiercely contested 1-0 losses to Queen Anne’s and Kent Island.

“It was an enjoyable season,” she added, “minus the bitter cold.”

Due to rain, ice and snow, Kent had limited on-field time heading into its first game. The school system’s only true snow days — February 18-19 — came during the first week, and the Trojans spent most of the preseason practicing in a school parking lot and the tennis courts.

The home-and-away series with St. Michaels underscored how much better the Trojans got as the season progressed. They won the first game, 1-0 in overtime, and “crushed it” in the rematch.

The Trojans, who at full strength dressed only 14 players, were outscored 11-1 in their 0-2 start, with both losses on the road. They gave up only five goals over the remaining seven games, while scoring 13.

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