Bron­cos edge Clip­pers

Pawtucket Times - - SPORTS -

CUM­BER­LAND – The Bur­ril­lville High field hockey team squeezed out a 2-1 over­time vic­tory over Cum­ber­land at Tucker Field on Fri­day night. Is­abelle O’Hara scored the game win­ner for the Bron­cos on an as­sist from Gabby Aguiar at 1:15 of the ex­tra ses­sion.

The game was score­less at half­time with Bur­ril­lville fresh­man An­gel Grondin scored on an as­sist from Dezarae Parkhurst with 10 min­utes left in reg­u­la­tion to give Bur­ril­lville a 1-0 lead, but Cum­ber­land’s Holly Pash­nik sent the game to over­time on a goal with 28 sec­onds to play.

“This was a to­tal team ef­fort,” said BHS head coach Sue Burgess.

Jade Si­moneau made 10 saves for the Bron­cos, now 2-2-2 in Di­vi­sion II. Laura Dion came up with three stops for the Clip­pers (3-6). jbaker@paw­tuck­et­

NORTH SMITH­FIELD – Min­utes af­ter the Rhode Is­land War­dogs had clinched a solid, and mem­o­rable, 28-19 vic­tory over the ri­val Con­necti­cut Pan­thers in a New Eng­land Foot­ball League tour­na­ment quar­ter­fi­nal last Satur­day night, head coach Ruben Costa ad­mit­ted it had been an emo­tional previous week for him.

He had mul­ti­ple rea­sons why, but his No. 1 was so easy to un­der­stand.

“As you know, there was a mur­der-sui­cide in Woonsocket this past week, and the fe­male vic­tim who was killed was a friend of mine and my wife’s,” Costa ex­plained while his play­ers cel­e­brated the tri­umph nearby. “We knew each other very well, even went to some par­ties to­gether.”

When asked if he had told any of his War­dogs about it, he replied, “I kept it to my­self; I didn’t want it to be a dis­trac­tion to the team, but that did cre­ate some tough emo­tions I had to deal with. This was tough. My wife used to work with Michelle’s sis­ter about 15 years ago, so we all be­came close. We had the same cir­cle of friends.”

Costa in­di­cated, deep down and in­side, he wanted his play­ers to win it for his friend, but also them­selves. Rhode Is­land, you see, had suf­fered a heart­break­ing loss to this same Con­necti­cut club in the NEFL Triple-A Su­per Bowl a year ago, and – sim­ply put – he wanted to re­venge.

“I wanted this win so badly for my guys be­cause they were re­ally dis­ap­pointed about los­ing the way they did last year – in the fi­nal minute and 20 sec­onds,” he noted. “There were a few calls that didn’t go our way, and those had a huge im­pact on the game. We brought those con­tro­ver­sial calls to the at­ten­tion of of­fi­cials af­ter the game.

“There was a bla­tant hold­ing penalty that wasn’t called, and it al­lowed the quar­ter­back to scam­per for a first down, and that – in essence – helped wind down the clock … Con­necti­cut has been called by some our kryp­tonite be­cause we’ve lost two Bowl games to them, and we’ve had a tough time beat­ing them. They re­cruit very well, and they’ve got a lot of col­leges down there to draw from, so this is a great feel­ing.

“This was very emo­tional for the play­ers, as they’ve had a year worth of frus­tra­tion built up in­side them,” he con­tin­ued. “It seemed like a wound that never healed, even though we beat them ear­lier this sea­son.

“Some of the Pan­thers said af­ter this game that they had brought a full squad, and that they even had tapped into some of their re­serve play­ers with the in­ten­tion of com­ing here and beat­ing us. They also said that the col­lec­tion of play­ers they came up here with was the best col­lec­tion they had all year.

“They brought it, but our guys re­sponded to it, so we’re all thrilled.”

As stated, how­ever, the War­dogs have barely be­gun their quest of cap­tur­ing the Triple-A cham­pi­onship. Next up for them: The South­ern Maine Rag­ing Bulls, a team Rhode Is­land pum­meled, 32-13, to end a two-game, sea­son-open­ing slide in Week No. 3.

In that tilt, quar­ter­back Jeff Costa (a 2005 Tol­man grad) com­pleted 15of-24 passes for 303 yards and five touch­downs. He did that de­spite be­ing mighty sick with the flu ear­lier in the week, and with­out the ser­vices of re­ceiver El­liot Wright.

Still, the el­der Costa is wary of fac­ing the Rag­ing Bulls again.

“They have a very good or­ga­ni­za­tion and great coaches, and they can adapt to our style of foot­ball, which is more smash­mouth than any­thing else,” he stated. “They did that in the first game (even though Rhode Is­land forged a 26-0 cush­ion be­fore South­ern Maine mus­tered a mini-come­back). They’ve got a lot of young, tal­ented ath­letes who can fly, are very shifty.

“It’s go­ing to be our re­spon­si­bil­ity to play dis­ci­plined foot­ball and take con­trol of the game the way we did last time,” he added. “We can do that by mak­ing them play our brand. We can play with fi­nesse, but we have a lot of guys who like to play the old school kind.

“Our de­fense is re­ally gritty, and I think – af­ter what hap­pened last week – the guys have more con­fi­dence in each other; they believe they can take what­ever the Bulls throw at them.”

He ex­plained South­ern Mains runs a spread of­fense with the young, scram­bling Isa­iah Bachelder be­hind cen­ter, and he loved throw­ing to shifty end Justin Cocroft.

“They nev­er­the­less aren’t afraid to play a lit­tle smash­mouth them­selves,” Costa of­fered. ‘Their QB isn’t afraid to leave the pocket, and he can re­ally move, so we’re go­ing to have to keep a close eye on him.

“I’ve al­ready told my guys, ‘Don’t think for a minute that you’re go­ing to roll over them just by show­ing up. They put up a fight the last time we played them. They’re also not go­ing to drive all the way down here, three hours plus, to be rolled over. They’re com­ing down with ev­ery in­ten­tion of win­ning and mov­ing on to the Su­per Bowl.’

“Our play­ers and staff have come this far, and I don’t think any­one wants our sea­son to end on Satur­day night.”

File photo by Ernest A. Brown

Ruben Costa, right, and the No. 2 Rhode Is­land War­dogs face No. 3 South­ern Maine in the NEFL semi­fi­nals tonight at North Smith­field High.

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