Archive - Sports Article
November 13th, 2011
FAIRFIELD, Ct. â Through all the ups and downs, the good times and the hardships, the smile still comes naturally.
The widespread grin of Rakim Sanders has come to embody his innocence and easygoing temperament. Scratch beneath the surface and youâll find a compassionate young man, someone who possesses the necessary zeal and resolve which made sure he didnât become symbolic of the Pawtucket housing project of his youth.
PAWTUCKET â We hear the phrase âmaking playsâ from athletes and coaches so often that sometimes the exact meaning of the phrase gets lost in its overuse.
Cumberland coach Chris Skurka used the term to describe how his underdog Clippers sneaked past favored Tolman by a 13-9 margin on Saturday night in a Division II quarterfinal playoff game.
âThatâs what this team does,â Skurka said. âWe make plays.â
PROVIDENCE â âShea is probably the most technical (skilled) team in the state,â La Salle coach Mario Pereira was saying on Saturday afternoon, âbut I told my kids I think we are the better team.â
The Rams, who had the best record in Division I during the regular season, proved their coach right by hanging on for a 3-2 victory over the Raiders in the Division I state title contest.
Shea won the coin toss and elected to play into the wind during the first half and quickly fell behind, 3-0.
PROVIDENCE --- With a combined 17 goals allowed between them this season, it was clear that scoring was going to be at a minimum in the Division II state finals between second-seeded Lincoln High and unbeaten No. 1 seed Exeter/West Greenwich.
That held true on Sunday afternoon at the Rhode Island College complex. But after a tight contest for 60 minutes, the Scarlet Knights broke through with two goals in a seven-minute span to pave the way for their second straight state crown with a 3-1 victory over the Lions in a rematch of last year's championship contest.
PAWTUCKET â Cumberland High made enough big plays on Saturday night to knock Tolman out of the Division II playoffs.
The Clippers got a 75-yard touchdown run by Erik Travers in the first quarter and then pulled out a 13-9 victory with a scoring drive in the final 4-1/2 minutes that was capped by Ryan Gaumondâs game-winning one-yard plunge with 1:36 left in the contest.
SOUTH KINGSTOWN â Sixteen times this season, defending state champion Exeter/West Greenwich has faced an opponent in Division II. Sixteen times, it has won handily.
No. 17 proved to be it toughest.
Seeking its first team crown in the school's history Saturday at Keaney Gymnasium, No. 3 seed Cumberland battled the top-seeded Scarlet Knights to a five-set thriller in the state finals before succumbing to scores of 22-25, 25-16, 21-25, 25-20 and 15-10.
WESTERLY â St. Raphael Academy got off to a 15-0 lead on Friday night before Westerly rallied for a 36-22 victory in the Division II quarterfinals.
The Saints took a 7-0 lead midway through the first quarter. After both teams punted twice to open the game, the Saints won the field position battle, setting up shop on Westerlyâs 28-yard line. Diazâs first punt had pinned Westerly back on its 17-yard line. His second punt was down on the Bulldogsâ six-yard line. Westerly then punted and could only get the ball out to the 28-yard line.
EAST GREENWICH â Jillian DeSimone had a feeling something good was about to happen upon sending a crossing feed toward the Mt. Hope net.
Why was DeSimone confident? Letâs just say Friday night wasnât the first time the Lincoln senior captain shoveled off a pass with the intention of setting up one of her teammates. Turns out that teammate was junior Annie Carrol, who sacrificed her body en route to producing the only goal Lincoln would need in a 1-0 victory against Mt. Hope in the Division II semifinals. Carrol's tally came with just over six minutes remaining in second half.
NORTH SMITHFIELD â North Smithfield is heading back in the Division IV playoffs, and the Northmen earned their return trip the hard way â with a five-game win streak loaded with victories over the divisionâs top teams.
The Northmen celebrated their âSenior Nightâ and officially stamped their ticket to the postseason on Friday by putting away the divisionâs top scoring team, Central Falls, by a 20-6 score.
Rick Pitino, sage that he is, shared this little anecdote at last monthâs Big East media day â one that illustrates the waves new Providence College head coach Ed Cooley is making on the recruiting trail.
âHeâs already attracting âŠ he beat us out on a player recruiting-wise,â said Pitino point blank, his eyes lighting up as if they were filled with fire. âI would have said, when it got to Providence and us [Louisville], he would have had no shot in getting this player, but Ed got him. So heâs already made an impact.â
Theyâve spent the past eight weeks working hard and overcoming some tough league opponents for the right to play in a meaningful game on Veteranâs Day weekend.
For neighboring schools Tolman, Cumberland, and St. Raphael, that weekend has finally arrived, and the meaningful games that they will participate in will be their quarterfinal-round games of the Division II playoffs.
PAWTUCKET â âThis game is going to be like âThe Thrilla In Manila,ââ La Salle Academy soccer coach Mario Pereira was saying on Tuesday night. âThis is going to be a classic âŠ two great teams trying to sort things out âŠ two teams with a lot of skilled players âŠ and kids on both sides who share an incredible passion for the game.â
Pereira was talking about Saturdayâs Division I state championship soccer game between his squad and Pawtucketâs Shea High. It is a heavyweight matchup between a private school and a public school, between the so-called rich kids and the city kids.
KINGSTON â For the first time in its long history, Cumberland will play for a state championship.
The Clippers earned a berth in Saturdayâs Division II championship match on Wednesday night by surviving a hard-fought 3-1 triumph over a Central Falls team that was determined to spring its second upset victory of the playoffs at URIâs Keaney Gymnasium.
Senior standouts Micaela Malboeuf (13 kills, 25 digs) and Michelle Malboeuf (11 kills, 20 digs) had big games for the Clippers, who defeated the Warriors by scored of 25-18, 25-19, 22-25, and 27-25 to advance.
âWith the benefit of hindsight, I wish I could have done more.â
â Joe Paterno
Who would have thought it would end this way for the legendary Penn State coach of 46 years? Paterno, the man of high moral values, the guy who once vowed not to retire and âleave college football to the Barry Switzers and Jackie Sherrillsâ of his coaching fraternity, had failed the biggest morality test of his life.
SOUTH KINGSTOWN â You know that Mount St. Charles-Coventry final that would have been billed as a matchup pitting one unbeaten squad versus another? Apparently Ponaganset didnât get the memo.
EAST GREENWICH â There are strength in numbers for sure on the soccer pitch, to which East Greenwich High will attest.
The Avengers consistently flooded the penalty box area with defenders, forming a protective cocoon that allowed goalie Oscar Goodwin to thrive while simultaneously left Tolman Highâs array of skill players singing the blues.
CRANSTON â Shea High shook free from a determined Cumberland team on Monday night at Cranston Stadium and advanced to the Division I state finals for the second straight season with a 3-0 victory over the Clippers.
The Raiders, who lost in the 2010 finals to Barrington, will meet top-ranked La Salle in Saturdayâs high noon showdown at Rhode Island Collegeâs pitch. The two teams tied 2-2 during their only regular season meeting.
CUMBERLAND â After shaking off some rust in the first game, Cumberland High went into playoff mode and is now just two bigs wins from the school's first-ever state championship.
Fueled by an outstanding night from junior Sam Bertherman and a solid all-around effort from her teammates, the third-seeded Clippers swept by No. 6 seed Tolman, 3-0, in the Division II quarterfinals on Monday at the Wellness Center. Cumberland won with scores of 25-23, 25-4, 25-9.
CRANSTON â Form held true in three of the four Division I quarterfinal playoff games contested over the past three days. Top-seeded La Salle, third-seeded Shea and fourth-seeded Barrington all advanced. Only second-seed Central Falls fell by the wayside, beaten 3-2 by seventh-seeded Cumberland on Saturday afternoon.
That sets up unbeaten La Salle versus defending champion Barrington in tonightâs 5 p.m. opener at Cranston Stadium followed by Shea and Cumberland at 7 p.m.
Throw out the regular-season records because in Division II, the playoffs beckon.
In a division known for staging âPre-Thanksgiving Madnessâ due to an eight-team field, the Div. II playoffs get underway this coming weekend with four quarterfinal-round matchups. For local entries Tolman, St. Raphael and Cumberland, the mission is clear â extend the season to Nov. 30, the date set aside for the semifinals.