Kavs showing growth on the pitch

Published 2:48 pm Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Kenston Forest School’s young varsity coed soccer team has struggled this season, but it has also been closing the gap on the scoreboard against opponents at times, demonstrating the potential for positive things to come.

The Kavaliers enter their next game Thursday with a 0-3-1 record.

On March 29, they fell 4-3 to visiting Brunswick Academy in a heartbreaker as they led 3-1 at halftime.

Two days prior, the Kavs lost 5-0 to visiting Isle of Wight Academy.

Traveling to Richmond Christian School on March 21, Kenston Forest played its host to a 4-4 tie.

In their season opener, the Kavaliers lost 6-0 at home to Southampton Academy.

“We have such a wide range of skill levels, but together we show a lot of promise and potential,” Kenston Forest Head Coach Katie Bellairs said. “We have had a rough start, but I continue to see improvements every day, and I’m looking forward to the strides we can make as a team in the remainder of the season.”

One look at the roster makes abundantly clear how young the 2017 Kavs are. The roster includes three sixth graders, three seventh graders, three freshmen, three sophomores, two juniors and four seniors.

Players on that list are stepping up to help fill the cleats of key graduates from last year’s team — co-captains Teddy Eisenstein and Lex Schwabenton.

The 2016 Kavaliers placed fourth in the Virginia Colonial Conference (VCC) and lost in the VCC tournament semifinals to No. 1 Blessed Sacrament Huguenot Catholic School.

Bellairs has positive expectations for what the 2017 Kavs can do.

“We are getting better every time we step on the pitch,” she said. “We are lucky enough to have three Longwood University Division 1 soccer players helping us develop skills and strategies. My hope is that we are underestimated and are able to cause a few upsets in the second half of our season.”

The coach said the team’s biggest obstacles to success are its size and number of players, as the other schools in the VCC have enough players to field varsity squads of mainly upperclassmen.

“We are focused on using our attributes to the best of our potential against our opponents and will benefit from the school’s growing enrollment,” Bellairs said.

Among the players stepping up to help Kenston Forest be competitive is junior goalkeeper Joshua Tiller.

“I believe he is the best goalie in the conference,” Bellairs said. “So far this season he has averaged nine saves per game.”

She also highlighted sophomore striker Zachary Dunavant, who leads the team with six goals.

“Zach hopes to play soccer at the collegiate level and works hard on his own time to accomplish this goal,” Bellairs said.

The coach pointed to senior captains Thomas Hunter and Paden Lawson as “amazing all-around players that show leadership on and off the field. Their patience and support of the younger players on the team is the driving force behind the team’s unity and ability to work together.”

Bellairs also noted that junior Miguel Oliveres, an exchange student, is an excellent addition to the team this year.

“He is one of the best with control of the ball and has three goals so far this season,” she said.

She highlighted seventh-graders Michael Clark and Collin Clary, who play the majority of each game, as up-  and-comers.

“These two players will be a huge part of the future of Kenston Forest soccer,” Bellairs said.

Kenston Forest visits Isle of Wight Academy on Thursday at 4 pm.