St. Raphael downs Tiver­ton to re­turn to fi­nal

Pawtucket Times - - SPORTS - By BREN­DAN McGAIR bm­c­gair@paw­tuck­et­times.com

JOHN­STON — One year later and not much has changed for the St. Raphael boys soc­cer team.

This time, how­ever, Dy­lan Po­lion and his team­mates have their sights set on fin­ish­ing the job.

A sec­ond con­sec­u­tive berth in the Di­vi­sion III fi­nal was con­firmed Thurs­day night as top-seeded SRA clipped fifth-seed Tiver­ton, 5-0, in a semi­fi­nal-round clash at John­ston High School. The Saints will face Pil­grim for the cham­pi­onship in a game that’s ten­ta­tively sched­uled for Sun­day af­ter­noon at Rhode Is­land Col­lege. Pil­grim de­feated John­ston, 1-0, in the other semi­fi­nal that was held at Tucker Field.

Po­lion sup­plied the Saints (18-0-1) with a hat trick. Two of his goals came in the sec­ond half as St. Raphael broke the con­test wide open with three goals in the fi­nal seven min­utes. A ju­nior, Po­lion is hop­ing for a sim­i­lar ef­fort with one game left in the sea­son and St. Raphael seek­ing to au­thor a much dif­fer­ent ti­tle-game out­come. The Saints dropped the 2017 D-III ti­tle game to Cranston East, 1-0.

Po­lion’s sec­ond tally was a great in­di­vid­ual ef­fort that came with just about 10 min­utes gone in the sec­ond half and helped give the Saints a two-goal cush­ion. Tiver­ton con­tin­ued to hang tough, but SRA put the con­test com­pletely out of reach with a flurry of goals late.

The strong start to the fin­ish line started when ju­nior Ju­lian Gi­raldo scored at 7:07. Ex­actly 21 sec­onds went by when St. Raphael ex­tended its lead to 4-0 be­hind a tally from ju­nior Max Cep­paro.

Po­lion pro­vided the cap­per when he pounced on a juicy re­bound with 5:04 re­main­ing.

“Dy­lan had a big game, but the other guys were also very much a part of it. If you look at our stats, we’re a pretty bal­anced team,” said St. Raphael head coach Frank Balcarcel.

A goalie’s best friend is the cross­bar and that proved to be the case at the 13-minute mark of the first half. A strong bid by the up­start Tigers struck the mid­dle bar be­fore land- ing safely in the hands of SRA ju­nior goalie An­drew Silva.

At 12:18, the Saints ex­e­cuted a per­fect give-and-go with Gi­raldo lead­ing Po­lion, who fin­ished with a flour­ish. The first goal of the game ap­peared to spark the Saints, who dom­i­nated play for the re­main­der of the half. The Tigers suc­ceeded in weath­er­ing a few SRA chances to trail by only goal at the break.

“I thought we had trou­ble con­nect­ing in the first half, but that wasn’t the case in the sec­ond half. We were un­selfish and then it be­came a to­tally dif­fer­ent game,” said Balcarcel.

St. Raphael will be look­ing to achieve its first boys’ soc­cer ti­tle in school his­tory.

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