A change is underway

Published 12:13 pm Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Kenston Forest School’s varsity soccer team is working through the challenges that come with a program that has struggled consistently, but as the Kavaliers have rediscovered their confidence, a positive trend has formed.

“The team’s performance has been interesting, to say the least,” Kenston Forest Assistant Coach Thomas Hunter said. “A lot of the returning players from the prior seasons are used to losing and not necessarily caring, but I feel as though we’ve started to change that idea of belief. As the season has progressed, they’ve found a sense of confidence in themselves and each other. As this confidence has emerged, they are now on a two-game winning streak, ready to move on to the next game.”

The Kavs will enter their home game Thursday with an overall record of 2-5, including a 2-2 mark in the Virginia Colonial Conference.

Hunter has confidence in his players’ potential.

“When they are focused and play as a team, they can beat anyone in their conference,” he said.

Helping lead Kenston Forest on offense is junior striker Paolo Carreddu.

“Paulo is a foreign exchange student from Italy who is finding his way back to the sport after a few years away from it,” Hunter said. “He is very confident on the ball and is always looking to take on defenders of the opposing side. He is very aggressive with the ball at his feet, and the other players look to him as a leader at the front of the attack.”

Another striker to watch is junior George Clark.

“George is always looking and wanting to score, so we have had to work on him sharing the ball and looking to find his teammates when they are in a better scoring opportunity,” Hunter said. “He has taken this challenge head on and has been key to the buildup of a lot of our goals so far this season.”

A standout in the midfield is senior defensive midfielder Zachary Dunavent.

“Zachary has been a part of this team for four years, and the players have looked to him as a leader this season,” Hunter said. “He prefers playing at striker, but has converted to a more defensive position with a positive attitude. He plays a crucial part in helping the defense and an even larger part in starting the attacks. He is confident on the ball and in his passing ability. He’s becoming more and more a vocal leader for the team, as well, always being positive. He possesses a calmness which led to the decision of him taking the decisive penalty kick to win the previous game against Greenbrier Christian.”

The Kavaliers also rely upon freshman Michael Clark in the midfield.

“Michael has adjusted from playing winger to being more involved in the center of the field,” Hunter said. “What he lacks in size, he makes up for with his ability on the ball. He has the ability to dribble through a whole team and then load the ball off to our strikers. He works hard up and down the field to ensure that we are strong in attack and even stronger in defending. He is always looking to get on the ball and is confident no matter who may be marking him.”

On defense, freshman center back Billy Conti “possesses a natural ability to win the ball,” the coach said. “He works hard the whole game, giving everything to ensure that we do not give up a goal, and his ability to go from standstill to full sprint in the blink of an eye helps him in that (aspect). He also is a viable option going forward when needing a goal.”

Hunter said that the rest of the defense works as a unit and that it is hard not to include them when it comes to standouts.

“Colin Clary, left back, a former winger, has adjusted to his position at the back and works hard the entire game,” the coach said. “He also has a good head about him, making up for his lack in size with his smarts when defending. Juniela Perez and Jah Houston play as a duo at center back and play physically, with Jah having tremendous speed to make up for any errors made at the back. Samantha Gunn, right back, is newer to the game but is always looking to improve and works hard the entire time she is on the field. She is not afraid to get physical with anyone.”

The coach concluded his survey of the Kenston Forest defense by focusing on junior goalkeeper Louis Bertet.

“Louis is foreign exchange student from France and is good (out in the) field,” Hunter said. “He wants so badly to play in the field and be a vital part of the midfield. However he sacrificed that aspect of his game to play in goal for the greater good of the team. Not naturally in goal, he doesn’t play as quite as orthodox as most keepers, but he pulls off remarkable saves that leave me mind-blown. He is one of the most selfless players I have ever been around.”