STEPHENS CITY — Sherando girls soccer coach Rob Kilmer has been waiting all season to see his team play up to its potential, and on Thursday night they delivered.

The Warriors took a quick lead and held on for a 3-0 victory over Kettle Run in Class 4 Northwestern District action.

“It’s probably our best win in five to six years,” Kilmer said. “They were organized. We were a team tonight for 80 minutes. It’s the best outing we’ve had.”

The Warriors (7-3-1) have battled injuries throughout the season and a brutal schedule that saw them play eight games in 17 days. Kilmer said Thursday was the healthiest his team has been all season, and it was the longest break they had between games – three days.

“This is the freshest we’ve been, and the healthiest we’ve been,” Kilmer said. “We were hoping we were going to get a performance like this.”

Sherando sophomore Kendall Lincoln got the offense going just two minutes into the game. She took a pass from teammate Abbie Dodson, dribbled around the left side and drilled a shot from about 15 feet out into the right corner of the goal past Kettle Run goalkeeper Carlyn Schnieder.

“It just felt good to score and be on top of them, and just have the lead,” Lincoln said.

Lincoln added to the lead with about 11 minutes left in the first half. She took a pass from teammate Lizzie Campbell and lofted the ball perfectly over Schnieder’s head for a 2-0 lead.

“I didn’t even think I was going to hit it. I thought I had missed the ball,” Lincoln said. “I was happy. I was really happy that it went in.”

Campbell, a defender, extended the lead in the final seconds of the first half. The Warriors were awarded a free kick from about 30 yards out. As both teams were trying to get set, Campbell ran up and quickly made the kick and put it out of Schnieder’s reach for a 3-0 lead.

“We got the free kick and then I just heard everybody on the sidelines just screaming ‘just kick it, just kick it,’” Campbell said. “And so I just kept going and I ran all the way through it. I saw it go behind the goalie’s hands and it went in.”

With a decisive lead, the Warriors relied on their stellar defense to finish the game strong in the second half. Every time Kettle Run threatened to score, the Warriors’ defense came up big and held them off.

Campbell said she’s been pleased with how the defense has played this year.

“I think we just have a really good group,” Campbell said. “We’ve just really clicked. We know each other so well and when to go up and when to go back. And we just work so well together. And it just worked out for us tonight.”

Kilmer said he’s made a few changes to his lineup this week that has paid off for his team.

“We’ve moved two defenders up front now in Abbie Dodson and Carson Foltz,” Kilmer said. “We’ve moved a center-mid back and starting striker back. We just felt like it was the best thing for our team, and it seemed to work tonight. It’s two games in a row we’ve done it and it’s two shutouts and we’ve scored six goals. We knocked off a real quality opponent tonight. So it’s a step in the right direction.”

Sherando goalkeeper Haley Byrnes had eight saves. Kettle Run (6-2-2) outshot Sherando 15-12, with most of the shots coming in the second half.

The Warriors play at Handley on Tuesday in another key district matchup. Handley beat Sherando, 5-1, earlier this season.

Lincoln said the win over Kettle Run was just what the team needed heading into the showdown with Handley.

“I think we started off kind of slow but I think this is a game-changer,” she said. “I think after this game we know that we’re ready to deal with Handley again. And they’re next on our list. And we’re going to start going after teams and winning our district hopefully.”

– Contact Tommy Keeler Jr. at tkeeler@nvdaily.com