PAWTUCKET â€” Head coach Pierre Ridore had several reasons to believe his Shea High squad would reign in a R.I. Division I Tournament preliminary tilt against Cumberland on Thursday afternoon.
First, his Raiders had rolled to a 4-1 victory over the Clippers just nine days before this playoff; second, Ridore's bunch entered the contest with a 6-0-1 mark at home â€“ that is, when it played either at Max Read Field or the McKinnon-Alves Complex â€“ and this would be played at the latter.
And, finally, Shea strolled into the game seeded fifth in all of D-I, while veteran mentor John Lopes' club held a 12th-ranking, courtesy of a not-so-stellar 3-10-1 regular-season record.
Cumberland, however, stunned not just the over-matched Raiders but the crowds lining the McKinnon-Alves sidelines with a 2-0 shutout victory.
It was just the fourth time this season that Shea hadn't scored at least once, and the first time it had lost at home. For the Clippers, they avenged a 3-0 defeat to these same Raiders in a Division I semifinal not quite a year ago.
â€śWhen we played them the first time, we lost, but we also didn't have three of our usual starters playing,â€ť Lopes explained after the win. â€śThey had received yellow cards in the previous game, so they couldn't play.
â€śEven though we got blown out, I thought we could compete with them, so I came into (Thursday's) game feeling pretty good about our chances,â€ť he added. â€śI knew those guys who were out (before) would play.â€ť
When asked if last season's tourney loss had anything to do with Cumberland's ferocity in this most recent tilt, he responded with a grin: â€śNo, I didn't even address it with the kids. It wasn't a factor at all.â€ť
The difference in this one, he claimed, came from his superlative defense, led by senior Zack Mobrice and classmate Kyle Sutcliffe; neither one played in that previous battle.
â€śI thought they both played strong games,â€ť he stated simply.
With the win, the Clippers moved to 5-10-1, and now will face fourth-ranked and host Portsmouth in a quarterfinal slated for 7 p.m., Saturday.
â€śThey just wanted it more than we did,â€ť offered a disappointed Ridore after his squad closed its season, assuredly prematurely, at 9-4-3. â€śIt was our lack of discipline. We had guys who didn't show up mentally or physically. (Cumberland) came in here from the get-go and played hard. They played disciplined. They won the battle at midfield. They definitely beat us through and through.
â€śThey were more aggressive to the ball, and they were racing all over the place,â€ť he continued. â€śThey got to more loose balls, they won more 50-50 balls â€¦ I am stunned, but I knew what was going to happen in the first 10 minutes. Our center midfielder, and our midfield in general, played passive; they weren't aggressive.
â€śRight then and there, I knew we were in for a long day.â€ť
Throughout those first 10 minutes, Cumberland dominated, but didn't have a true test on Shea senior goalie Sebastian DeFaria until the 12th minute. The junior Sutcliffe took a throw-in from the left, and sophomore Nicholas Poli headed it through the crease.
About two minutes later, junior midfielder Trevor Lopes took a lengthy direct kick from the right, but classmate Kyle Courtney's header soared just over the crossbar.
In the 17th, though, a referee called a Raider defender for a â€śhand-ballâ€ť inside the penalty box, and Trevor Lopes (the coach's nephew) drilled the penalty boot past DeFaria, who dove to his right. That gave the Clippers the 1-0 advantage.
Shea immediately began to surge. On a crossing pass deep inside the Clippers' penalty box midway through the half, senior co-captain Issifou Kankarafou knocked it down and drove the ball toward the left post, but Cumberland senior netminder and tri-captain Remi Lussier made a diving stop.
Approximately two minutes later, Lussier hauled in junior Edson Ferrer's 30-yard direct kick; and, in the 26th minute, Ferrer took another direct from the right side of the 18, though that flew only a foot outside the right post. A few minutes after, junior Kevin Andrade ripped a left-side corner kick at goal, but Lussier snared the save.
Finally, with about 10 minutes left before the break, senior midfielder Adilson DaRosa poked a cross at freshman forward Sergio Lopes deep in the box, and the latter appeared to tuck it under Lussier, but the goalie made another fine save.
The opening stanza ended at 1-0, Clippers, and Ridore pulled his troops aside to implore them to control the midfield.
Instead, senior midfielder Ben Bradley took a throw-in deep from the right sideline, and Chris Arteaga propelled himself toward the ball, then headed it past DeFaria to make it 2-0.
Lussier recorded 12 saves, DeFaria a half-dozen.
â€śWe played well, but I know there's more where that came from,â€ť Coach Lopes noted.