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Coach: Sean Wesley
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Nick Senak Jr., GK
Konrad Bayer So., GK
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Michael Rindler Sr., M
Michael Manganelli Sr., M
Steven Lobkovich Sr., F
Kyle Kenagy Jr., F
Dustin Uher Jr., D
Jonathan Mojica Sr., M
Daniel Morefield So., F
Andrew Heaton Jr., M
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Patrick Cleary Jr., M
Trenton Wray So., M
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Matt Emerick Sr., D

Redwings can't get one past Marist's Kemp


By Matt Le Cren

When the 2013 schedule was released, many people assumed the East Suburban Catholic Conference championship would be decided when Benet travels to Saint Viator on Oct. 18.

Maybe not.

Defending league champion Benet could still be in the running for the title heading into that match, but the Redwings no longer control their own destiny after a 2-0 loss to Marist on Monday night in Chicago.

The host RedHawks came into the match riding a seven-game winning streak, so it wasn’t exactly shocking they were able to knock off Benet. The fact they shut them out was.

The Redwings had scored 49 goals in their first 13 matches and had not been shut out this season. They had gone 27 games without being blanked in a regular season match and had won 12 straight ESCC games dating to 2011.

Surprisingly, it was a 5-foot-4 goalie who stymied them. Marist junior Noah Kemp stood tall between the pipes, making 11 saves in recording his fourth shutout of the season.

“Definitely he had a great game, but we did our job I thought,” Benet striker Kyle Kenagy said. “We peppered the goal and kept the ball on target for the most part.”

Indeed, the Redwings (11-2-1, 4-1) controlled most of the run of play and were dangerous on a consistent basis and outshot Marist 17-11. The first scoring chance came in the fifth minute when Matt Emerick headed a corner kick off the crossbar.

Little did anyone know that would be a portent of things to come. Kemp used the woodwork to his advantage, diving to knock a point-blank Paddy Lawler shot into the left post in the 27th minute and then lunging to his left to tip a 25-yard screamer off the foot of Kenagy into the inside of the right post five minutes later.

The ball then rolled unmolested through the crease before Kemp got up and scrambled quickly to smother it near the left post just before a Benet player could get to it. That was the closest Kemp came to giving up a rebound.

“We needed a rebound,” Kenagy said. “That was a big part of it, and we can always create more too.”

Kenagy came into the game having scored 16 goals and three assists, while fellow striker Michael Rindler had also been red-hot with 12 goals - all in his last eight games - to go with six assists.

But Rindler was victimized four times by Kemp, the first coming with just 50 seconds left in the first half when Kemp went to his knees for a hockey-like stop on an open seven-yard shot.

“We’ve got to play smarter,” Kenagy said. “We have to put our shots where the goalie [is not]. Each goalie is different. This goalie went down a lot. We shot low, which is what we usually do, but obviously it didn’t work.

“We’ve got to be smart. We’ve got to mix it up. We have to outsmart the keeper and we didn’t do that tonight.”

Benet coach Sean Wesley was thinking along the same lines.

“It seems like goalies always play great [against us],” Wesley said. “He was great but I thought we made his life pretty easy today. Like I thought when we got into the box and got into dangerous areas, he stood big in the center and we hit it right at him.

“We missed some wide, got unlucky on [Kenagy’s shot] that hit the post and that might have changed the game. We never got the momentum.

“We played great in the first 10 minutes maybe and then felt like it was ours. Felt like we had tons of chances, don’t put any away and we leave them in it and we up one and then we’re chasing the rest of the way.”

Meanwhile, the RedHawks (10-4, 5-0) took the lead on a garbage goal with 18:17 left in the first half when Charlie Earner emerged from a tangle of bodies in front of the Benet net and poked the ball in. The play began with a corner kick.

“They were great on set pieces,” Kenagy said. “That was what really killed us. That’s something that we need to be better at.

“[There are] no excuses. We can’t blame it on the small field or the turf. We play on turf all the time and small fields. It was just a mental breakdown.”

There were no breakdowns on Kemp’s part. In the first five minutes of the second half he made a great diving save on a partial breakaway by Kenagy after a great lead pass from Sam Knapke, then jumped to stop a Eddie Manzke header following a long throw-in by Jonathan Mojica.

“I’d have to say it’s one of my best games but I can’t take all the credit,” a beaming Kemp said. “I have to give a lot of credit to my defense. I have to give a lot of credit to the offense for putting away the chances that we had and it’s really just a team effort.”

On the few occasions the Redwings were able to get the ball past Kemp, they were off the mark. Knapke and Rindler worked a nice give-and-go with 31:40 to play but Rindler ripped an open shot barely over the crossbar. Knapke put two shots on frame after that but Kemp secured both, the latter being a great diving denial on a 22-yard bullet with 3:40 remaining.

“[It was] just wasted attempt after wasted attempt and you can’t do that against a good team on a pitch like this where it’s tight and it plays fast,” Wesley said. “We got our chances and we did nothing with it tonight.”

That wasn’t the only problem.

“We didn’t play good in the back,” Wesley noted. “We needed to win a ball, we didn’t do that tonight.

“Every punt they had in the second half was bouncing in the middle. That had us backing up and we’re now playing 60-70 yards away from their goal instead of playing in their half and that changed the game.”

Marist’s second goal came on a counterattack against the run of play with 14:25 left. Eddie Cunningham sent a long diagonal pass from the right side of his own end to Brendan McHugh on the left wing. Benet defenders got back in time but gave McHugh way too much time and space and the senior calmly buried a 23-yard shot into the upper right corner of the net.

When time expired, the RedHawks gathered around their diminutive goalie in celebration.

“It’s really special to beat a team like Benet, a dream come true,” Kemp said. “They have a great team. They always do and you’ve got to give them credit for always having a great team consistently throughout their history, so to beat a team like that is amazing.”

The victory vaulted Marist into sole possession of first place in the ESCC, a half-game ahead of Saint Viator (9-3-1, 4-0), which routed Nazareth 7-0 on Monday. Benet is in third place, one game back.

While his team may be in the driver’s seat, Marist coach Sean Maxwell isn’t ready to declare the race over.

“We still have to run through the gauntlet,” Maxwell said. “We’ve got Carmel, Viator and Marian all still left so it’s not like we’re driving a limo or anything.”

And now it is the RedHawks who have the target on their backs.

“We had won seven in a row before this but everyone’s focus is Benet and that’s a good thing,” Maxwell said. “I’m glad they were ranked high. But now I’m afraid we’re not going to sneak up on anyone else.”

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