PAWTUCKET â€” Less than 72 hours removed from Shea High's most impressive win of the season, head coach Pierre Ridore and his boys were back at work at Max Read Field on Tuesday afternoon, re-polishing their skills.
The seventh-seeded Raiders had manufactured perhaps the upset of the R.I. Interscholastic League's Division I tourney on Saturday night, outlasting No. 2 Barrington, 1-0, in a quarterfinal shootout at Victory Field.
In the process, they not only gained sweet revenge against the Eagles, which had recorded a 1-0 regular-season triumph over this same crew back in September, but also earned a bid to the semifinals; Ridore's contingent now will face third-ranked North Kingstown at East Greenwich High's Nick Carcieri Field tonight at 6.
â€śThe kids went crazy; they were so happy,â€ť the veteran mentor grinned as his squad began stretching and warming up for another afternoon of practice. â€śThey had beaten us in the Division I finals, 2-1, in 2010, and we lost to them (1-0) both last year and this year.
â€śIt seems we always play close games with Barrington,â€ť he added, â€śand I think it's because they play a good style of second. They move the ball with a lot of one or two touches; they play the beautiful game just like we do. It's more of a possession style, using precision and finesse. We usually don't play so well against what I call 'MMA' (or Mixed Martial Arts) styles, where there's a lot of kick-and-runs and physicality or aggression.
â€śWe want to win with our moves, our passing, our running. Like I said, we like to play the beautiful game.â€ť
Saturday's result for Shea was certainly most attractive. After holding the Eagles scoreless through 80 minutes of regulation, not to mention two 10-minute overtime sessions, the Raiders snared the verdict with a 4-3 penalty-kick victory. Senior captain William Baah notched the clincher with the shootout knotted at 3-3.
The other goals in the five-try-per-team OT stanza were posted by Telmo Barbosa, Edson Ferrer and Helder Andrade, all seniors.
â€śIt went the distance; they had missed on their first two shots, and we only missed our first one,â€ť Ridore recalled. â€śWhen William scored, the kids just flipped. During the final minute of the second overtime, we put Jordan Lopes in goal because he's really good at defending penalty kicks.
â€śHe's our third-string keeper, but he's so good at reacting and getting inside the shooters' heads. Our top goalie is (junior) Dedilino Gomes, but we knew we had to go to Jordan in that spot. His first two saves were huge. On the third (for Barrington), he got his hand on it, but it was hit so hard he couldn't completely stop it.
â€śWe knew we had to curtail their top forward, Denali Sexton,â€ť he continued. â€śThey've got a few very skilled forwards, but he's so dangerous. We also knew we needed to stop Steve Duncan and Jozef Jennings.
â€śWe tried to deny Denali the ball; whenever he had it at his foot, we tried to pressure him into making a quick decision, which more often than not causes mistakes. Our stopper is a sophomore, Camragha Namusse, and he did a great job of keeping an eye on Sexton. And our sweeper (Baah) was able to clean up any mistakes we may have had on defense.â€ť
Ridore admitted his contingent mustered a superb outing against the Eagles, one that improved Shea's overall mark to 9-7-1, though now will face a more aggressive, no-holds-barred team in North Kingstown. In one earlier meeting this fall, the Raiders sustained a 2-0 loss.
â€śWe absolutely can win this,â€ť he stated. â€śSince Day One, I've told the kids that we have a lot of talent, enough to win the state championship, but we had to play well together as a team. They did that against Barrington. Now we have to continue to communicate and leave everything on the field, just like they did on Saturday night.â€ť
The chief also mentioned his Raiders had exhibited sporadic play during the early juncture of the campaign.
â€śI don't know if the kids just weren't listening to what I was saying, or they weren't able to come together because we've got a lot of different personalities on this team. They also have different soccer backgrounds. You look at Barrington, and they've been playing together since they were children.
â€śRight before the playoffs started, we had our 'Senior Night' (the final home game for the soon-to-be graduates), and I think the kids started to realize that if they didn't play together, they would be in for another early exit (from the tourney). They didn't want that. Our seniors want something more in their last season.â€ť
Ridore indicated North Kingstown employs a more physical style, and that his Raiders must find a way to remain in their finesse game.
â€śWe're just going to have to deal with it,â€ť he shrugged. â€śWe want to play our game, and see if we can get them to play our style. They have one forward (Evan Gaudreau) who's scored over 15 goals this season, and their second leading scorer only has four, so we're going to do a very good job of marking him.
â€śHe's a great player with a lot of speed, and we'll have to pay special attention to him, know where he's at and what he's doing at all times,â€ť he added. â€śI know we're going to have to shut him down, or at least slow him down. That job will go to Camragha, and also William.
â€śThe fact we defeated Barrington the way we did, I believe the kids are looking forward to this. They want to feel the same way they did after (Saturday's) game. That's always a plus.â€ť