EAST PROVIDENCE — Central Falls learned the value of playing hard for 80 minutes, no matter how bad the weather is, or how slippery the field conditions.
The Warriors trailed East Providence 2-0 after the first 66 minutes of Wednesday’s Division I contest played during intermittent rain showers at Pierce Field. But they kept pushing the ball into E.P.’s end and ultimately tied the game on Christian Rodriguez’s goal with just 30 seconds left in the match.
“You guys learned that good things happen when you play hard for 80 minutes,” Central Falls coach Carl Africo told his players after the game.
East Providence coach Tony Vieira understood what happened to his team and explained it to his players in no uncertain terms once the match was over.
“We started to play ‘big ball’ and you can’t do that with a 2-0 lead,” Vieira admitted. “For a long time, we played the right way with a lead, but then we got out of our game. Instead of trying to maintain possession and control the game, we started going for the long passes and that allowed Central Falls to make some plays.”
The Warriors began to turn the game around in the 66th minute when freshman Marcelo Oserio never gave up on a possession inside the Townies’ 20-yard line and was tripped up in the penalty box after regaining control of the ball 10 yards in front of E.P.’s net.
C.F.. captain Steven Serpa easily converted the ensuing penalty kick to give the Warriors necessary momentum. It took nearly 13 more minutes for Central Falls to tie the game but the Warriors did it on a strong and accurate throw-in by Christian Montoya that Rodriguez converted into a game-tying goal from 17 yards out.
Just 30 seconds remained in the match as the Warriors celebrated their huge goal.
“Montoya’s throw-in got the play started,” Africo said. “Rodriguez took care of the rest. He made a great shot that went past their goalkeeper.”
Central Falls, which beat Hope 3-1 in its season opener, is now 1-0-1 heading into Friday’s 6 p.m. home match against Cumberland at the Higginson Avenue field.
Nikki Dorbor had the second goal for East Providence, a 2-0 loser to Shea in its opener. The Townies take a 0-1-1 record into Monday’s home match against Barrington. The schedule-maker has done E.P. no favors early in the season as Barrington and Shea are again rated the top teams in Division I.
“Today was a learning experience for us,” Vieira said. “It’s early in the season and we are still learning how the play the game the right way. It takes time.”
Africo tried to impart a unifying message to his team following Wednesday’s match.
“We have to play like Warriors,” he said, evoking the team’s nickname to emphasize that his multi-talented players must work together for a common goal, making teamwork, accurate passing and intelligence part of their game.
“The first goal we gave up was awful,” he said later. “The shot must have been from 45 yards out. But the kids never gave up. They battled back. That’s a good sign.”