EAST GREENWICH – Jillian DeSimone had a feeling something good was about to happen upon sending a crossing feed toward the Mt. Hope net.
Why was DeSimone confident? Let’s just say Friday night wasn’t the first time the Lincoln senior captain shoveled off a pass with the intention of setting up one of her teammates. Turns out that teammate was junior Annie Carrol, who sacrificed her body en route to producing the only goal Lincoln would need in a 1-0 victory against Mt. Hope in the Division II semifinals. Carrol's tally came with just over six minutes remaining in second half.
The win propels the Lions into Div. II title game for the second straight year. Come Sunday at 2 p.m. Lincoln, the second seed, will square off against top seed Exeter/West Greenwich at Rhode Island College. Exeter defeated Tiverton by a 2-0 count in the other semifinal held Friday night at East Greenwich High School.
As for the creation of Carrol’s goal, DeSimone described it as, “I always have a teammate come look for the ball because it’s an easier cross. I always tell them to run through the ball and Annie Carrol, she ran right through it. That play is something we’ve stressed all season.
“We have great communication on the field. We know where everyone is and I think with us being a close team, we have that mentality that ‘I need to do this for the team,’” DeSimone continued.
The Lions out-shot the Huskies by a 14-5 count with Lincoln goaltender Aiden Cullen stopping everything sent her direction. Cullen’s biggest test came at the 20:52 mark of the second half, the senior captain stonewalling Mt. Hope’s Carmen Hogan from close range.
Mt. Hope was the team that defeated Lincoln in last season’s championship match.
“I’m confident about (Sunday),” DeSimone said. “I think we’ll play well and hopefully we can come out with the win.”
The Lions played a tough first half against a strong wind, but both teams had chances to score. DeSimone and Melissa Sorkin were awarded direct kicks late in the half with Mt. Hope goalie Vivian Ramos (13 saves) gobbling up each bid so that the Lions couldn’t poke in a rebound. Mt. Hope’s best scoring bid in the opening 40 minutes came on a corner kick that banged off the left post.
It was clear that marking up the opposing team’s chief scoring threat(s) was a major priority. The Huskies did a good job in limiting DeSimone’s touches with Lions defenders Sarah Oates and Kristen Giarrusso likewise shadowing Felicia Vieira, Christie Ribeiro and Catherine Lopes, each of whom tallied 14 goals during the regular season for the Huskies.
“They have some very talented midfielders which allowed them to win the midfield (battle) for a lot of the game,” noted Lincoln head coach John D’Aloisio.
“When it comes to playoffs, I think one of the main things is ‘Oh, we need to mark her or keep an eye on her,’” DeSimone said. “Our midfielders and defenders were able to shut them down so we were able to counteract anyone who was shutting down a key player.”
Friday marked the second time in nine days that the Huskies and Lions met up on the pitch. The previous came on the final day of the regular season with Lincoln hanging on for a 1-0 win.