Seth Thomas and Isaiah Shimizu contest for possession of the ball. Ben Ray / The Reporter

Seth Thomas and Isaiah Shimizu contest for possession of the ball. Ben Ray / The Reporter

Kentwood takes down Kentridge and takes over first place in NPSL

Conks have now beaten Kentridge six straight times dating back to 2018.

A lot has changed in the world since 2018, but one thing that has remained a constant is Kentwood soccer defeating their rivals from Kentridge.

Since 2018, Kentwood has a 6-0 record against the Chargers on the pitch after a 3-1 win on April 16.

“Them and Tahoma are the two teams that we mark our calendars for. It is one of those feelings that you look forward to at the beginning of the season,” said senior captain Seth Thomas.

Both sides came into the matchup with a handsome amount of momentum. Kentwood has been on a six-game unbeaten streak with the lone blemish being a 2-2 tie to Kentlake. The Chargers were on a seven-game unbeaten streak, but now have lost back-to-back games with three remaining on the schedule.

The two sides went back and fourth inside the first 10 minutes. Kentwood controlled possession, but never threatened Charger keeper Patrick O’Brien.

Kentwood’s persistence did give them an advantage in the fourteenth minute. Seth Thomas flicked a header toward teammate Logan Hasting, who awkwardly put it past O’Brien for Kentwood’s first goal of the match.

As the referee’s watch ticked closer to halftime, Kentridge began to pick up their end of the deal in the rivalry game and really put pressure on Kentwood. Then in the 33rd minute, they were rewarded with a beauty of a goal. The Chargers combined really well, and Carson Hurts sprinted down the left sideline and sent a pass to Lukas Grundmeier, who was waiting for it at the edge six-yard box — and tied the game at 1-1.

As the two sides went into halftime, Kentwood was lucky to have the game at 1-1. It took some misfortune on some Kentridge shot attempts and possession in general swayed heavy toward Kentridge at the end of the first half.

“No matter how their season has gone, it is a rivalry game. They’re going to be working just as hard as us. We have to stay focused every single minute,” Thomas said.

The second half started similar to the first, but one thing was for certain: Patrick O’Brien is the real deal in between the posts for the Chargers. Kentwood challenged him a lot early in the second half and he kept Kentridge in the game. O’Brien routinely made last second clearances, leaping saves and anything else needed to keep the game level.

But he could only stay afloat for so long and Kentwood would once again snatch the lead — and this time they held on to it.

“We tried out a little bit of a lineup change going into the second half. We were trying to get settled in it, then we get that goal and we relaxed and got comfortable in it,” Thomas said.

In the 69th minute, similar to how the Chargers scored their goal, Kentwood had Hasting running down the left side of the field. He sent a mouth-watering ball across the goal, which leaked out to Thomas, who punished the ball into the back of the net for a 2-1 advantage.

That wasn’t all either for Kentwood late in the half. With just under five minutes to go, Hasting caught a half volley from about 40 yards out and smashed it into the back of the net. O’Brien had no chance at saving this shot — it was a blistering strike from Hasting to put the icing on the cake. “Dylan (Hasting) and Logan (Hasting) are amazing. In the snap of a finger they can hit any shot they want. They are talented (players),” Thomas said.

Kentwood narrowly missed out on the state tournament a year ago, falling to Federal Way in the district tournament. This year, the Conks have their eyes set on the on the state tournament and sit alone at the top of the NPSL standings with a league high 25 points. Making that jump starts when there aren’t fans in the stands.

“It starts with training. I think if your training is harder than the games, the games will be easier,” Thomas said.

The Conks might be down a couple of players for the foreseeable future as well. Brijesh Godala went down with a leg injury in the second half and another Conk suffered a concussion on the last play of the game.

“Those are two of some of my best friends. It is tough because I want to check on them but also I got 10 other guys that I need to make sure are focusing on the game,” Thomas said.

The Kentwood player who suffered a concussion did receive medical treatment from the Kentridge trainer and emergency response team. The Reporter reached out to Kent School District and Kentwood, and is awaiting an update from them. This story will be updated once information is shared.

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Ellis Nguyen and a Kentwood player fight to control the ball at Kentridge High School. Ben Ray / The Reporter

Ellis Nguyen and a Kentwood player fight to control the ball at Kentridge High School. Ben Ray / The Reporter

Cole Maginnis looks to avoid the slide tackle from Kentridge’s Tristan Nemeth. Ben Ray / The Reporter

Cole Maginnis looks to avoid the slide tackle from Kentridge’s Tristan Nemeth. Ben Ray / The Reporter

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