LINCOLN – The playoffs for Division I begin Oct. 29-31 and Cumberland and Lincoln are right on the cusp to be among the eight teams that earn a berth into a quarterfinal game.
The neighboring rivals battled together on Tuesday afternoon in a key Div. I-B matchup and it was the host Lions that kept up their last-season momentum en route to a 3-0 decision over the Clippers.
Lincoln broke open a close game with two scores in the latter half to earn the win and boost its record to 5-4-2 in the division. The Lions are currently ranked No. 7 among teams in the entire league and have posted a 2-1-1 record their last four games.
“We are right in the middle. We are getting better as the season has been going on,” said Lincoln coach Brenda Sylvester. “This is what we like to see, getting ready for the playoffs. We are working towards that goal first and then we’ll see how we do if we make it to the playoffs.”
Cumberland coach Stefanie Capone-Bello saw her squad drop to 3-9-1 and ninth in the 12-team division. The Clippers were out-shot by a convincing 14-1 margin.
“Our first half wasn’t our best half,” Capone-Bello admitted. “We started out a little slow today but I think they picked it up in the second half and had a much better second half. We just couldn’t put one in the net.”
Lincoln took its 1-0 advantage into the half on a goal from junior Heather Bager with 7:50 remaining. The Lions dominated in the opening period, but just couldn’t get their offense clicking enough to increase their lead.
“We were moving the ball really well, but we weren’t getting as many shots as we would like,” Sylvester said. “(A score of) 1-0 was pretty much what we expected after we saw the shots. The movement on the ball was excellent.”
The back-breaker for the Clippers occurred less than two minutes into the second half when Lion junior Jillian Borzain scored just 1:20 after the break off sophomore Kellyn Dyer’s second assist of the contest.
“Any goal hurts,” Capone-Bello said. “It doesn’t matter what time it is. But obviously, right at the beginning, it’s hard to come back from that. But they hustled and they kept at it.”
Sylvester felt the insurance goal ignited her team.
“It was big,” she said. “The girls needed it. They needed to pick it up in the second half. That was excellent to get them excited and psyched up for the rest of the game.”
Senior Briana LoCurto made it 3-zip by scoring with 9:36 left on the clock on a feed from Borzain.
The outcome was a lot different then the last time the two teams met. In their season-opener on Sept. 12, the Lions narrowly defeated the Clippers by a 1-0 score.
‘”I thought the game might be a little closer (today),” Sylvester said. ‘But the girls have been working hard and have been doing everything we have been working at in practice. They looked really good. I was impressed.”
The Clippers, who lost no one from last year’s squad, will endure another tough test this Thursday when it welcomes East Greenwich to Tucker Field. The Avengers are atop the Div. I-B standings at 9-1-2.
“Our season has been a roller coaster. That’s how I would sum it up,” Capone-Bello said. “We’ve had some upsets. We’ve had games that we haven’t played as well as we should have and we’ve had games where we came out really strong and we played really, really well. It’s been a roller coaster.”
Lincoln faces winless Warwick Vets back on its home turf Thursday and a talented Bay View squad on Saturday The Bengals are currently 7-3-1 in Div. I-A.
Sylvester believes her Lions will be competitive if they can inch their way into the playoffs.
“We have a great team,” she said. “If they keep playing together and keep playing as a cohesive unit, they can do a lot.”
Cumberland 0 0 – 0
Lincoln 1 2 – 3
First half – 1. L, Heather Bager (Kellyn Dyer) 7:50.
Second half – 2. L, Jillian Borzain (Dyer) 28:40; 3. Briana LoCurto (Borzain) 20:24.
Saves – L, Ashley Devolve 1. C, Becky Geddes 11. Shots – L 14. C 1. Penalty corners – L 10. C 2.