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Eight teams will square off today-- weather permitting -- in the Division II playoffs. And perhaps six of them could actually win the state title that will be decided this coming Sunday at Rhode Island College.
âOur division is very close,â Lincoln coach John DâAloisio admitted over the weekend. His Lions host North Smithfield at 4 p.m. today.
A day-long rain is in the forecast. Any games postponed today likely would be made up on Tuesday.
âWe played North Smithfield twice this season,â DâAloisio said. âWe beat them 3-1 and 1-0. North Smithfield is well-coached and disciplined. They have a strong goalkeeper. Itâs going to be a close game.â
Lincoln won the Division II-North regular season title with a 12-1-5 record, edging Ponaganset (12-2-4) by just one point. Last yearâs unbeaten regular season champion, Mount St. Charles, finished third with an 11-5-2 mark. North Smithfield came home fourth with a 9-7-2 mark. In a five-school North division, thatâs four teams above .500.
The South featured co-champions as Exeter/West Greenwich and Pilgrim finished with identical 13-2-3 records. Lincoln lost a 2-1 decision to EWG in mid-September and beat Pilgrim 2-1 in early October.
Central Division champ Tiverton brings a 12-2-4 record into the playoffs.
EWG earned the No. 1 seed, based on its win over Lincoln. Tiverton, Pilgrim, Ponaganset and Mount St. Charles could all be considered state title threats. And anyone who overlooks North Smithfield isnât paying attention.
âI was very impressed with all the teams in our playoffs,â DâAloisio said. âJust about anybody could win it all.â
DâAloisio took over as head coach after Lincoln, the Division III state champion in 2005-06, finished with a 6-9-1 record in Division II last season.
The Lions began their season by tying Mount St. Charles. They whipped Woonsocket 6-0 and then lost to EWG on Sept. 17. They havenât lost a game since.
âThis is my first year as head coach,â DâAloisio admitted. âThe girls took me this far. Itâs very gratifying to coach them because they are a great group.â
Lincolnâs leading goal scorer is junior co-captain Jillian DeSimone, who accumulated 15 goals during the regular season.
âJill is very fast and has great ball control skills,â DâAloisio said. âShe always draws extra coverage from the other team.â
The Lions exemplify the team approach, spreading their scoring around, while allowing only 8 goals on defense in 18 games.
âI think thatâs impressive,â DâAloisio said. âOur defense is very good. Our keeper, Aiden Cullen, has been fantastic. She always seems very relaxed out there. I think she keeps the rest of the team calm.â
Lincoln, which outscored its opponents 47-8 this season, just needs to keep doing what worked during the regular season. North Smithfield is a good offensive team that netted 41 goals while yielding 31.
âWeâre ready to play,â DâAloisio said. âThe playoffs are going to be a lot of fun.â
In other games today, Tiverton (12-2-4) visits Ponaganset in a matchup of the fifth and fourth seeds. Sixth-seeded Mount St. Charles (11-5-2) visits third-seed Pilgrim (13-2-3). Top seed EWG (13-2-3) hosts No. 8 Mount Hope (8-7-3).
The semifinals will be held on Wednesday evening at Cranston Stadium with the finals set for 3 p.m. on Sunday at Rhode Island College.