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LINCOLN â€” Like most coaches, Lincoln High chief John Dâ€™Aloisio admitted being more relieved than thrilled after his club celebrated an incredibly well-played, physical but nonetheless thrilling 2-1 shootout victory over East Greenwich in a R.I. Division Tournament quarterfinal on Saturday night.
â€śYou really canâ€™t enjoy it until the whole thing is finished,â€ť he confessed with a smile, referring to the fact his Lions still need to furnish two triumphs to capture the state title in which theyâ€™ve all been longing.
â€śThe kids are excited, and they should be,â€ť he added. â€śItâ€™s also great to move on, but we still have more work to do. This is NOT finished â€¦ Before we stepped on the field, there was much more pressure, but that was self-induced for the coach. The kids were very relaxed; I canâ€™t say the same thing for me.â€ť
In the end, top-seeded Lincoln snatched the shootout by a 3-1 tally, and the scoring went like this:
After having won the coin toss after the a pair of 10-minute OT sessions, the elder Dâ€™Aloisioâ€™s senior tri-captains â€“ including son midfielder/forward Alex, midfielder Mateuz Puzanowski and defender Ryan Labrie â€“ elected to take the initial â€śpenalty kick.â€ť
Classmate Brian Hasegawa made good on the try, whistling a grounder past Avengersâ€™ junior goalie Nolan Cooney; and EG sophomore Joe Maddenâ€™s try sailed over the crossbar.
The younger Dâ€™Aloisio took a stutter-step before crushing his attempt inside the right post, and the visitorsâ€™ freshman Brendan Jordan responded with a high line drive at Lincoln junior keeper Jack Bacon. The latter, however, leaped and knocked it off the crossbar, out of harmâ€™s way.
With the Lions up 2-0, Labrie stepped up and drilled a shot at Cooney, but he poked it over the bar.
Senior midfielder Eugene Fachon then scored on a low rip off Baconâ€™s hands and inside the left post to pull the Avengers to within one, but junior swing David Jessey rifled a groundball inside the left post to push the lead to two.
When junior Ryan Douglasâ€™ hard grounder sailed outside the left post, Bacon leaped for joy just outside the cage, and his teammates hustled toward him for congratulations.
Why? Not only had Lincoln moved to 12-4-4 overall, but it also secured a semifinal berth against fourth-ranked Providence Country Day at Cranston Stadium at 5 p.m., Wednesday.
â€śI as a head coach have been through two other shootouts; the first was when I coached the (LHS) girlsâ€™ varsity team, and we won that,â€ť Coach Dâ€™Aloisio said. â€śThe second came when I was with the middle-school boysâ€™ team in the state championship round. This feels good, but â€“ like I said â€“ thereâ€™s more.â€ť
East Greenwich (7-8-6 overall) had earned this quarterfinal bid with an amazing 5-4 shootout win over No. 8 Classical; that took seven penalty kicks on each side for the result to be cemented.
Perhaps head coach Patrick McGuirl didnâ€™t want to relive that, and he seemed rather excited when â€“ just 6:42 into the tilt â€“ Douglas walloped a 24-yard grounder past a diving Bacon and inside the left post, giving the Avengers an early 1-0 advantage.
The hosts had a fantastic chance to knot it with 16:47 elapsed; thatâ€™s when senior midfielder Colby Alves raced in on a partial breakaway but was tripped up by Peter Goretoy.
The refs immediately called for a penalty shot, but Labrie roped it off the crossbar; after a single bounce, Cooney secured it to his chest.
The Lions pretty much dominated the rest of the half, courtesy of the midfield play of Dâ€™Aloisio, seniors Paul Roque, Dylan Mendes and John Ariza, as well as junior Josh Gillen.
Whatever Lincolnâ€™s mentor and assistant Tim Potter told their troops during the break worked wonders. Only 37 ticks into the second half, tri-captain Dâ€™Aloisio offered a high, hard one from the right, and Puzanowski used his tall frame to jump and head it past Cooney.
The tally knotted the tilt at 1-1.
With 16:24 remaining in regulation, the officials whistled Madden for a yellow card, that after pulling on Roqueâ€™s jersey in his offensive zone. Not long after, Roque whacked a 22-yard grounder from the left at Cooney, but the netminder scooped .
The Lions dominated the first overtime stanza with three shots on the cage, though Cooney responded each time.
As for the second 10-minute extra session, Douglas knocked a feed out of the air and lined it toward the net, but that coasted over the crossbar. It looked like Roque had provided the clincher with 6:40 left when he lifted a touch left-side corner at the cage.
EGâ€™s senior midfielder Pat Lavan, however, headed the ball away.
That left the shootout test, one Lincoln passed â€“ and then some. Bacon closed with seven saves, while Cooney had 15 stops.
â€śWe played well enough to keep it tied, but I have to credit their keeper,â€ť Coach Dâ€™Aloisio offered. â€śHe has a big presence out there. He was able to nullify all of our direct and free kicks, doing so by leaping and making the save. You just canâ€™t score on him from any kind of distance.
â€śThey were just as good as I expected,â€ť he continued. â€śThe whole team committed to playing defense, and theyâ€™re very well-coached. I thought they also moved the ball very well, finding the open player.
â€śWe had the edge in possession, which is our style. Going to PKs is an unfortunate part of the game â€“ for one team. I will say this: Iâ€™m very grateful our kids pulled through. This was a battle from start to finish.â€ť