Clark-led Kent advances to 1A East region final in field hockey

Kent County High School’s seniors, from left, Catherine Milligan, Ally Hickman, Mallory Helfenbein, Tanae Johnson and Mira Hitzges have a chance to play for a region championship at home.

CHESAPEAKE CITY — Kenzie Clark is making up for lost time.

A sophomore who spent the first half of the field hockey season as a defender coming off the bench, Clark is flourishing in her new role as a forward/midfielder.

She made a second start in a row Monday and netted a hat trick to help Kent County defeat host Bo Manor, 8-0, in the 1A East Region I semifinals.

In the other half of the region Monday, No. 4 seed St. Michaels upset No. 1 seed Elkton, 2-1, sending the Saints (3-9) to Kent on Wednesday (3:30 p.m.) for the title game. 

Clark scored what held up to be the winning goal, and her first varsity goal, with only 2 minutes, 45 seconds elapsed. Classmate Kendell Ford was credited with the assist.

Clark also scored Kent's fourth and seventh goals, and had an assist — all in the second half.

Goals were not easy to come by in the first half for the Trojans, though they dominated time of possession. They scored three goals off of eight shots and earned five penalty corners before intermission.

Senior Catherine Milligan scored Kent's insurance goal with 21:04 remaining in the opening half and set up Ford's goal eight minutes later that extended the spread to 3-0.

The Trojans asserted themselves after intermission, putting on a clinic with crisp passes, movement off the ball, creating open spaces and backing up one another.

They took 10 shots, earned eight corners and put five more goals on the scoreboard.

Kent's only goal scored off a corner came with 14:12 to play when Mira Hitzges finished the set-up from Ford.

Kate Ervin, who unselfishly distributed three assists, dented the scoreboard with 11:40 remaining.

There were assists on all eight of the Trojans' goals. Ford assisted twice, while Milligan, Clark and Mallory Helfenbein each had one helper.

A defense led by Ally Hickman, Annie Page Brocker and Katie Wade prevented Bo Manor from getting off a shot. This was the third shutout of the season for rookie Caroline Milligan, but the first time she was not required to make a save.

Kent totaled 13 corners and 18 shots.

Coach Susan Taylor-Wright cleared her bench.

Bo Manor (7-6) was seeded second in the 1A East Region I due to its better regular-season record.

Kent was an overlooked third seed. Five of Kent's eight losses are each by a goal, including three in extra time. 

NOTE: After Wednesday, there will be eight region champs — a new twist this year, compared to the previous format of four region champs. For the state quarterfinals, Nov. 1-2, the eight champions will be seeded one through eight on their regular-season winning percentage.

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