PAWTUCKET — Seems like everyone is in agreement. Shea High once again has an extremely talented soccer team.
“Shea is the best team in the state in terms of skills,” Providence Country Day coach Stacey DeCastro admitted on Monday after his shorthanded team dropped a one-sided 6-1 verdict to the Raiders.
“There is one thing about Shea,” DeCastro added. “The only one that can beat them is themselves. Sometimes they forget what they do best. I thought they were too casual today on our one goal.”
The Knights, who dropped 3-0 decisions last week to Portsmouth and Barrington (Shea’s top two rivals for Division I honors), took a 1-0 lead two minutes into the game when Matthew Davitt sent a 10-yard shot past Shea goalie Julio Garcia, who had no chance on the play.
“Our sweeper back fell down,” Shea coach Pierre Ridore said. “He told me he had a cramp in his leg.”
The Raiders dominated the rest of the match, finishing with a 29-4 edge in shots on goal. Time and again, Shea penetrated PCD’s defense as speedy forwards Emerson Barros and Issifou Kankarafou created plays with their passing skills and athletic advantage over the Knights.
Kankarafou tied the game four minutes after Davitt’s opening salvo. PCD goalie Jon Anderson deflected Kankarafou’s hard shot over the bar, resulting in a corner kick. The ball came back to the Raiders’ captain, who mishit his first shot, regained possession and drilled a second shot past Anderson, who would finish the game with 18 saves, heading to the bench midway through the second half as both coaches emptied their benches.
Kankarafou made it a 2-1 game at the 12-minute mark when he teed the ball up twice for close shots, and then beat Anderson on his third attempt. PCD’s defenders were seemingly incapable of marking the speedier Raider forwards.
Anderson spent much of the game pleading with his teammates to get the ball out of their end of the field.
The athletic PCD goalie, who took a crash course in blocking shots during the game, may have seen Emerson Barros in his nightmares later last night. The Raiders’ high-scoring forward made numerous rushes at the Knights’ goalkeeper, dribbling around defenders, passing to teammates, and then waiting for return passes.
Barros, the state’s goal-scoring leader last season, got his first goal at the 23-minute mark with an assist from teammate Will Neves. Ienik Spencer made it 4-1 with six minutes left in the half with the assist going to Joao Cardoso, who would finish with three assists in the match.
Anderson continued his shot-blocking clinic in the first 10 minutes of the second half before Barros and Patrick Dias added goals to account for the final margin of 6-1.
The Raiders, who sometimes lapse into individual rushes up the field instead of play-making, had an easy time of it with PCD, which was missing its two co-captains due to injuries.
Ridore was quick to let his players know after the game that Tuesday’s practice would be an important one because defending state champion is next up on the schedule Wednesday evening at the Eagles’ home field.
“We do have a lot of talent,” Ridore admitted after talking to his players and going over details for today’s practice. “If we stay disciplined, that’s the key to winning for us.”
His captain, Kankarafou, pointed to the same issue when asked about last Friday’s surprising 2-1 loss to Portsmouth.
“If we play our own style, with one or two touches, and stay disciplined, we can beat anyone,” Kankarafou said. “We made a defensive mistake against Portsmouth. They got the first goal, which is always very important in soccer. We put a lot of shots on them but we just didn’t get the ball past their goalie enough.”
Ridore had a different take on the loss to Portsmouth, in which his team held a 23-12 advantage in shots on goal. The Patriots broke a 1-1 tie in the 72nd minute on a goal by Allen Nickerson.
“We had people who did not play their position in that game,” the coach said. “We were caught out of position and that hurt us. We need to correct that because against teams like Portsmouth and Barrington, one mistake can cost you the game.”
The Raiders, now 2-1 in Division I action, had no such worries against the Knights, who are 0-3 and have been outscored 12-1 this season.