Published in The Chagrin Valley Times
May 2, 2019
Kenston sophomore midfielder Via Carriero only buried one goal during the Lady Bombers’ road clash against Mentor last Thursday at Osborne Stadium.
But when the Kenston girls found themselves down, 6-2, five minutes into a lacrosse affair that they felt they were the favorites to win, Carriero’s switch to defend Mentor junior midfielder Grace London off the draw circle was no doubt a game-changer.
Thanks to that adjustment, the Lady Bombers swung the pendulum in their favor for an 8-0 run to close out the half, before going on to secure a 12-9 victory and improve their record to 10-3 under second-year head coach Patrick Benz.
“Our game plan hasn’t changed a whole lot throughout the season; it’s play fast and play short,” Benz said. “And, depending on what our opponents are doing on the draw, you need to make an adjustment. So, (London) did a real nice job of getting and working down fast against our defense, and we weren’t stopping her initially.
“Then I made an adjustment to who I put on her, and Via Carriero did a wonderful job of shutting down their No. 1 player from that point. So, from the 6-2 deficit, we held them more than 25 minutes scoreless.”
Although Kenston sophomore midfielder and draw specialist Dylan Britton has been rehabbing a quad injury, Carriero’s neutralizing effort against London propelled the Lady Bombers’ to victory.
After taking command of a 10-6 upper hand at intermission, Kenston increased its lead, 12-7, for the majority of the second half, until the Lady Cardinals capitalized on a pair of free-position opportunities late in the game.
“It was not as close as it looked on the scoreboard,” Benz said. “Yeah, there was a time there when they were up, 6-2, and I just had to settle the girls down, talk to them and let them know that, on our unforced turnover category, that’s what we can control.
“We needed to do a better job of valuing our possessions, working short and working together rather than trying to push a fast break. Our advantage is when we come in settled because of the limited number of kids we have to run up and down the field. When we run a settled offense, our scoring percentage is above 60 percent.”
The Kenston girls had seven goal scorers against Mentor, led by junior attacker Lauren Liston, junior midfielder Julia Piazza and sophomore attacker Jenna Piazza netting three tallies apiece. Liston also dished out seven assists for a hand in 10 of the Lady Bombers’ goals.
Through 13 games, Liston has recorded 38 goals and 30 assists.
“I usually try to iso,” Liston said about drawing a one-on-one matchup to set up all her assists. “So, I’ll have my defender, and I usually draw the wing defender, and then it’s usually Jenna Piazza who cuts in. So, when I draw them, the attacker cuts in, and it’s a pretty easy feed for me. It’s just about all the movement that everyone does.”
Although the younger Piazza scored a hat trick against Mentor, she exited the game with a quad injury in the first half.
But other players stepped up their offensive roles, including senior attacker Britta Treu, who finished with a goal and an assist, as well as Carriero, junior attacker Sophie Kinnet and sophomore midfielder and draw specialist Molly Hubert, who netted one tally apiece.
“It was a little hard, because Jenna and I connect really well,” Liston said about having another teammate sustain a quad injury. “But Via Carriero is a middy, so she also plays the offensive side too, and she provided a huge boost. We weren’t winning the draw at first, and we didn’t really know why. But then we figured it out, and, once we figured it out and got it down to the offensive end, we started scoring like crazy.”
Although Kenston has 16 players on its varsity roster, including two goalies, the injury bug hasn’t been kind to the Lady Bombers.
During a road battle against Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin on April 13, the Lady Bombers were without five starters and had to utilize their junior varsity players. The outcome was a 9-7 loss against a region opponent that Kenston could face again in the playoffs.
“I think, if we had all our starters, it probably would have been a better turnout,” the elder Piazza said. “But that just shows that we need to work harder on other skills as a whole team, because, if we have multiple injuries, then we need to be prepared to take those positions and do something with them rather than just taking a loss.”
Specifically with Britton’s injury, the elder Piazza transitioned from defense to midfield, where she started last season, to provide a boost to the Lady Bombers’ offense and battles on the circle.
After the NDCL loss, Kenston strung together four wins against Gilmour Academy, 18-10, Wadsworth, 9-6, Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy, 14-4, and Mentor, with the elder Piazza netting a hat trick against the Lady Cardinals.
“I think two of my goals were off cuts from the top, but sometimes I’ll cut in and fake pass, and the goal will be open,” she said. “That game, you just had to realize that the defense was a high press, so you weren’t going to get driven shots, because you would just get crashed on at the 8 (meter arc).
“So, we adjusted our offense to making quick passes and scoring off assists, because our team is mostly scoring off assists rather than self-driving goals. So, we just worked the ball fast, and our stick skills were really sharp that game, and they didn’t realize what was happening, because we just kept moving the ball so fast.”
On Tuesday night, the Kenston girls went on to defeat Wooster, 17-7, to improve their record to 11-3.
Up next, the Lady Bombers will host Brunswick at 6:30 p.m. Thursday.
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