PAWTUCKET –— Shea High has slipped its sports car engine into high gear as the soccer season heads into its final three weeks of league play.
The Raiders cruised to a 5-2 victory over Cumberland on Wednesday in a match that featured some controversy and a surprising push by the Clippers that created a 2-2 stalemate early in the second half.
Shea dominated most of the first half, getting goals from Julio Ramos 4:30 into the match and then another from Emerson Barros at the 21:25 mark. The Clippers gained some momentum with a penalty kick goal by Daniel Louriero, who missed his first attempt but was awarded a re-kick when ifficial N.G. Rico decided Shea goalie Julio Garcia had taken two steps forward while Louriero lined up his shot, instead of going side to side, as the rules suggest.
It is a call rarely seen in soccer but Rico stuck to his guns. Shea coach Pierre Ridore protested loudly and eventually was issued a yellow card by Rico.
Cumberland continued to hold its own with the speedy Raiders, tying the game early in the second half when Ryan Rei scored following a free kick from the right sideline. Tyler Mobrice assisted on the play.
“Our kids kept their composure,” Ridore said afterwards. “It seemed like a lot of calls were going against us. I never doubted the outcome, even when the score was 2-2. We maintained our composure.”
The Raiders, who were playing into a brisk wind during the second half, showed off their speed while scoring three unanswered goals. Barros broke through, in tandem with Joao Cardoso, on a pretty play that resulted in the tie-breaking goal five minutes after Rei had knotted the score.
Cardoso then scored 22 minutes later, taking a long pass from Elvys Varela and going in alone on Cumberland goaltender Remi Lussier, who had no chance to stop the shot. Cardoso had time to control the ball, fake a shot to draw Lussier off-balance, and then put the ball into the right corner of the goal.
Cardoso added an insurance goal with two minutes left with Barros assisting on the play.
“The problem for us today is we were shorthanded due to injuries,” Cumberland coach John Lopes said, “and you have no chance against Shea when you’re down four players. They have so much speed up front.”
Pierre Ridore saw his Raiders improve to 8-1-1 in Division I. Shea has outscored its opponents 41-11 in 10 games. La Salle, with 26 goals in 11 games, is the second highest-scoring team in the state, 15 goals behind the Raiders.
Shea currently leads Portsmouth (6-2-0) by five points, although the Patriots have played two less games. Defending state champion Barrington has fallen to third place with a 4-2-2 record.
Shea must play a makeup game with Portsmouth sometime this month. The Raiders’ match at Portsmouth two Fridays ago was rained out. It is hoped the contest will be played two weeks from now.
Shea’s biggest test in the regular season will come from unbeaten La Salle, which leads the South with an 8-0-3 record. The two teams will meet at La Salle’s field on Saturday, Oct. 22.
“La Salle is a ball-possession team,” Lopes said. “They play a different style than Shea.”
Ridore knows that his team hasn’t won anything yet. The Raiders lost to Barrington in last year’s state final after moving up from Division II, where they had won three state titles during the last decade.
“I appreciate the skills we have,” the coach said when asked if he ever marvels at the explosive scoring potential of his front line. “Emerson (Barros), Joao (Cardoso) … I watch them every day in practice. I know what they can do. We have a very good team that needs to keep working hard if we want to win the state title.”