Of­fen­sive strug­gles keep Lin­coln from se­cur­ing first win

Lions out­shoot vis­it­ing Bay View; Ben­gals se­cure shutout win at Fer­gu­son Field

Pawtucket Times - - SPORTS - By BRAN­DEN MELLO bmello@woonsock­et­call.com

LIN­COLN — Out­side of a seven-goal de­feat to un­de­feated Bar­ring­ton, the Lin­coln field hockey team has had an op­por­tu­nity to win its three other games to start the Di­vi­sion I sea­son.

The Lions bat­tled reign­ing state cham­pion North Kingstown for long stretches of the open­ing game be­fore se­cur­ing a point against Smith­field.

Fri­day af­ter­noon against vis­it­ing Bay View, the Lions, once again, played well enough to earn a vic­tory, but the Ben­gals left Fer­gu­son Field with a 1-0 vic­tory thanks to a last­minute goal in the first half.

Lin­coln (0-3-1 Di­vi­sion I) has yet to score a goal in four games plus an over­time ses­sion against the Sen­tinels.

“In th­ese close games, the dif­fer­ence is all about in­ten­sity and play­ing smart,” Lin­coln coach Ash­ley Pavao said. “When we play Bay View, it’s al­ways a close game that could go ei­ther way. To­day, the dif­fer­ence was a lit­tle bit of luck. The girls played re­ally well and we made im­prove­ments over our last game against Bar­ring­ton.”

Bay View (2-2 Di­vi­sion I) has also strug­gled to score goals early in the sea­son, as the Ben­gals only two goals through the first three games came in a 2-0 vic­tory over Cum­ber­land. The lone goal Fri­day came with just 30 sec­onds left in the open­ing half when Lin­coln ju­nior goalie Mad­die Flax­ing­ton mis­read a shot by ju­nior Emily Levesque.

In truth, the Lions dom­i­nated the open­ing 25 min­utes of the con­test and were un­lucky not to have put a shot past goalie Natalie Noland, who wound up mak­ing six saves.

Sopho­more Jen­nah Saqib helped cre­ate a flurry of penalty cor­ners at the 20-minute mark, but the Lions failed to take ad­van­tage of their chances.

“We’re just go­ing to keep mak­ing im­prove­ments and try to get them next time,” Pavao said. “Of­fen­sively, we’re re­ally been fo­cused on work­ing to­gether and mak­ing those an­gle passes and trav­el­ling up the field in tri­an­gles. We’ve been do­ing a lot bet­ter with that stuff.

“Jen­nah had a re­ally good game to­day. She was work­ing the ball on of­fense and she was get­ting those crosses in. Again, once the ball gets in the cir­cle it’s just about play­ing smart and find­ing a lit­tle bit of luck. It just didn’t hap­pen for us to­day.”

On the other end of the field, Pavao was pleased with her de­fense com­ing off the blowout loss to the Ea­gles. Flax­ing­ton was only forced to make one save thanks to the play of se­nior Olivia Ge­nesse and a few other de­fend­ers.

“We tried a new de­fen­sive sys­tem in this game and it seemed to work well,” Pavao said. “Our de­fense has been strong, but com­ing off the last game they were feel­ing a lit­tle un­sure of them­selves, but hope­fully they gained some con­fi­dence back.”

The Ben­gals con­trolled long stretches of the sec­ond half, but the Lions had chances to tie the game in the fi­nal three min­utes af­ter Pavao called her fi­nal time­out. Abby Col­letto had the best chance in the 59th minute, but the Lions were forced to en­dure a fourth straight game with­out a goal.

Af­ter trav­el­ling to East Green­wich Mon­day night, the Lions re­turn to Fer­gu­son Field Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon for a matchup with Val­ley ri­val Cum­ber­land.

“Wins are com­ing,” Pavao said. ‘We’re play­ing Cum­ber­land on Wed­nes­day – it’s on. It should be a good game.”

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