WRENTHAM, Mass. – King Philip knew heading into Monday’s Div. 1 South opener against Hingham that it was not going to be an easy night. The Harborwomen were not a typical No. 16 seed and would pose a stiff challenge in the first round. Luckily for the Warriors, they have Chloe Layne.
The University of Hartford-commit and recently named Hockomock League MVP put on a show with her control and vision, scoring three goals and assisting on two others, as KP scored four unanswered in the second half to pull out a 6-2 victory.
“Chloe was playing out of her mind out there,” said KP coach Gary Pichel. “She was getting doubled, tripled, pulled, yanked, kicked, so I think it’s only fair that she ended up scoring a hat trick.”
Hingham came into the game fired up and got off to a strong start, pressing the Warriors and playing quick balls into the channels for the forwards to chase. Alexa Varholak had an early chance down the left but sent her shot just wide of the far post. In the 11th minute, Olivia Sharkansky found space on the right side and sent a shot just over the bar.
It took KP a while to get the ball into the attack. A good passing move from Jenna Hitchen to Ally Stanton to Makenzie Shandley opened room for a shot from distance, but it didn’t trouble the Hingham goalie.
In the 13th minute, Hingham found a breakthrough. Kate Dalimonte lined up a free kick from just inside the attacking half and she belted a shot that dipped just under the crossbar and out of the reach of KP goalie Taylor Butler. The strike had Hingham coach Ryan Puntiri dancing up the sideline in celebration, but the momentum from the goal was short-lived.
Within a minute, KP had answered. A quick transition got Layne in space running at the Hingham back line and she laid a pass into the path of Jenny Montville, who took a touch and then hit an unstoppable shot into the far corner to make it 1-1.
Montville came off the bench and gave the Warriors a spark down the right wing. She combined with Avery Snead to have a shot from the edge of the box to force a diving save from Hingham keeper Kathryn Wilson.
The Warriors grabbed the lead in the 22nd minute. Layne leapt to head a bouncing ball in the box. The header came back off the bar, but she was the first to react to the rebound and side-footed a shot past the keeper.
That goal seemed to spark the Harborwomen back into life and the visitors dominated the final portion of the first half, looking more like a perennial power than a team that finished the regular season with a .500 record. Ava Maguire sliced a shot from 20 yards wide of the post, Sharkansky forced Butler to palm away a shot at the near post, and Butler had to be off her line quickly to block a chance for Taylor Aymar.
“This is how she’s played all season long,” Pichel said about Butler. “She learned her lesson from that first goal they got on the direct kick where she was out too far. She makes the right choice almost every time to come out and take the play away. She has so much confidence in herself.”
Hingham tied the game with three minutes left in the half. A corner was played to the back post, where it was knocked back into the middle of the box. The ball bounced around until it fell to a wide open Aymar, who tapped it in.
Butler was called into action just two minutes after the break, sliding out to block another chance for Aymar in the left channel and keep the score level.
“At halftime we talked about, is this the way we want to end our season?” Pichel explained. “It most certainly was not. They came in with a lot more energy in that first half than we did. We can’t just sit there and say, hey we’re going to ride this thing out and we’re going to end up winning because that’s now how it works.”
KP started to wear Hingham down and gained control of the midfield. Stanton drove forward out of midfield and forced a save out of Wilson, who held onto it at the second attempt. In the 58th minute, a corner was cleared out to Stanton, who had a shot from 20 yards. The ball bounced away from the keeper and Hitchen was quickest to the loose ball and flicked it past the goalie for a 3-2 lead.
With Hingham pushing forward for an equalizer, KP struck for three goals in the final six minutes. Layne got it started when she was able to toe poke the ball beyond the last defender and then picked the bottom corner on the break.
Three minutes later, Layne looped a pass over the Hingham back line to Snead, who was able to stretch out a leg and knock the ball past the onrushing keeper. Layne then completed her hat trick and added gloss to the final score when she cut in from the right side and sent a left-footed shot inside the far post.
Pichel noted, “This has got to be the toughest 16 seed we could ever have to play and sure enough it turned out that way and the score was not indicative of how well Hingham played. They played us as tough as anyone has this year.”
King Philip (19-0) will host division rival Oliver Ames on Thursday afternoon. The Warriors won both regular season meetings by a combined eight goals.
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