North­men up­set Bron­cos

Par­sons’ first-half goal enough to se­cure win

Pawtucket Times - - SPORTS - By BRAN­DEN MELLO bmello@woonsock­et­

BURRILLVILLE — The North Smith­field girls soc­cer team passed its most dif­fi­cult test of the sea­son Thurs­day afternoon.

Af­ter cruis­ing to an un­de­feated record through the first seven games of the Di­vi­sion II cam­paign, the North­men made the short trip to fel­low un­beaten Burrillville and man­aged to do some­thing no other team has done this sea­son – shut down the high-pow­ered Bron­cos.

North Smith­field lead­ing scorer Mered­ith Par­sons de­liv­ered a su­perb goal with the out­side of her right foot in the 30th minute and then the North­men used gritty de­fense – and a lit­tle bit of luck – to stymie the Bron­cos. Se­nior goalie Olivia Mar­can­to­nio recorded her fourth straight shutout in a sat­is­fy­ing 1-0 vic­tory.

“We did what we had to do to win the game,” North Smith­field coach John Pa­s­tore said.

“They were ag­gres­sive and they beat us to more balls, but we did what we had to do to win. No ex­cuses, but this isn’t our type of field. Ev­ery­thing they threw at us, we ab­sorbed. When my girls had chances, they took ad­van­tage. That’s the game of soc­cer.”

“This is amaz­ing for us,” sopho­more mid­fielder Madi­son Reynolds said af­ter record­ing the game-win­ning as­sist.”

Burrillville (6-1-1 Di­vi­sion II) pro­duced more shots on goal (6-4) and recorded more cor­ner kicks (7-3), but the Bron­cos were held off the score­board for the first time since los­ing 1-0 to Sc­i­t­u­ate in the 2016 Di­vi­sion II fi­nal.

First-year coach Jeff Lav­i­gne wasn’t dis­ap­pointed with the loss and he cer­tainly wasn’t dis­ap­pointed by the way his team played. The Bron­cos played with more ag­gres­sion and were more pre­cise with their passes than they were in last week’s 2-2 tie with tal­ented Moses Brown.

“That was a loss that you can take be­cause we were by far the bet­ter team with bet­ter play and we dom­i­nated the en­tire game,” Lav­i­gne said. “I don’t know how many times they crossed mid­field – maybe six. We couldn’t put it in the net and we had one un­for­tu­nate break­down. I thought there was a foul that should’ve been called, but it wasn’t. They put it in, so hat’s off to them.”

North Smith­field (6-0-2 Di­vi­sion II) is in the midst of a dif­fi­cult three-game stretch that con­tin­ues to­mor­row morn­ing at Man­ning Field, in Sc­i­t­u­ate, where the North­men will take on the only other re­main­ing un­de­feated team left in the di­vi­sion, the reign­ing cham­pion Spar­tans.

Sc­i­t­u­ate’s lone blem­ish this sea­son is a 1-1 tie with Pon­a­ganset. Since that con­test, Delaney Lang­ton, goalie Madi­son Med­bury and the Spar­tans have outscored their last four op­po­nents 14-0.

“That’s go­ing to be an­other tough field for us where we’re play­ing a very, very, very good team,” Pa­s­tore said. “We’re go­ing to see to­mor­row at prac­tice how the girls are feel­ing be­cause we know the girls are all ex­cited about this win. We need to get this out of them and get them fo­cused on Satur­day.”

The Bron­cos, who make the trip down Route 102 to face Pon­a­ganset Tues­day, chose to play with the wind at their back in the first half to try and build a lead and put the young North­men un­der pres­sure. The tac­tic ap­peared to be the right de­ci­sion be­cause the hosts dom­i­nated the first 25 min­utes of play.

Mar­can­to­nio made her first big save in the 16th minute when Al­iza Richard ripped a wind-aided shot from the top of the penalty box. The North­men se­nior man­aged to palm the ball away for a cor­ner kick.

The North­men slowly worked their way into the game and man­aged to grab a goal in the 30th minute when Reynolds fired a cross-field pass into the feet of Par­sons. The junior took a touch to the in­side of her de­fender and un­leashed a per­fect shot with the out­side of her foot that eluded Ni­cole Ethier for a goal. It was Par­sons’ team­lead­ing 10th tally of the sea­son.

“That’s what we were hop­ing for. We wanted to get her more op­por­tu­ni­ties,” Pa­s­tore said. “She likes to run and she’s the type of player who likes the ball played to her feet where she can run at the de­fender. See likes to see the ball in front of her and know where to at­tack.”

The North­men had the wind at their back, but that didn’t mat­ter be­cause the Bron­cos played their best half of soc­cer – out­side of the 18-yard box. Syd­ney Kee­gan, Richard and Liz Ethier con­trolled the mid­field and cre­ated nu­mer­ous op­por­tu­ni­ties for Burrillville’s three for­wards.

Kay­ley La­fond had a chance in the 50th minute, but the best op­por­tu­nity of the half fell to Richard, who saw a 55th-minute shot saved by Mar­can­to­nio at her right post. Reynolds also saved a goal by clear­ing a ball in­side the six­yard box 12 min­utes later.

“We have to fin­ish our chances, but this is a loss that any coach would take – all day,” Lav­i­gne said. “They’ll pick their heads up and be fine. This was prob­a­bly our best per­for­mance of the year in a 1noth­ing loss. The beau­ti­ful thing about soc­cer is you can dom­i­nate a game and you give you one fast break and you lose.”

Pho­tos by Ernest A. Brown

North Smith­field junior for­ward Mered­ith Par­sons (8, above) moves the ball past a Burrillville de­fender to score what turned out to be the gamewin­ning goal in the North­men’s 1-0 win over the Bron­cos. Burrillville se­nior goalie Ni­cole Ethier (be­low) made three saves.

Pho­tos by Ernest A. Brown

Burrillville’s Sam Prario (21) cor­rals a ball in Thurs­day’s game against North Smith­field. Se­nior cap­tain Vanessa Venkatara­man (9, top right) and the North­men se­cured an im­pres­sive 1-0 vic­tory over se­nior Cameron Ea­ton (7, bot­tom right) and the tal­ented Bron­cos.

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