Northmen upset Broncos
Parsons’ first-half goal enough to secure win
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.”
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.
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.