WOONSOCKET -- Back on Friday, Sept. 14, Tolman High senior Ashley Clark registered five goals in a rather easy 9-1 thumping of Woonsocket at the McKinnon-Alves Complex.
She failed in her attempt to repeat that feat during the two teams’ Division III-A rematch at Barry Field on rainy Wednesday afternoon.
Still, head coach Bel Pereira didn’t mind a bit; why would he? Clark netted four tallies and senior defender Amber Duhamel did a superb job of defending the Villa Novans’ stellar senior quad-captain and striker Krislyn Godin in the Tigers’ 6-2 triumph.
“Ashley’s a very good player; she’s got outstanding speed and is just a great athlete,” Pereira stated after his squad moved to 5-6 overall and in league play. “She beats most defenders to the ball and is really aggressive in doing so.
“She had five against Woonsocket the last time, and now four here,” he added. “She just has a penchant for finding the net. That’s why she leads our team in scoring (with 12) … The conditions were horrible with the rain coming down so hard; girls from both teams were sliding all over the place.
“But I thought we were pretty solid in the midfield, and that (junior) Maria Vergara did a good job of clearing. Woonsocket is a very fast team. It’s quick to the ball, and you have to be aware of that at all times.”
Clark didn’t need long to net her first. In the third minute, she poked a shot at junior keeper Carmen Giambra, who made the save, but Clark pounced on the rebound and whacked it home.
Five minutes later, senior forward Nicole Bedoya fed a nice through ball to Clark on the left side, and the latter dribbled twice and ripped a 15-yard grounder past Giambra for the 2-0 lead.
It looked as if the Villa Novans would slice the deficit in half about 18 minutes in; that’s when Godin tracked down a pass, hustled in from the right, beat a defender and drove an attempt at senior goalie Shelby Hofknecht, though the shot bounced just past the right post.
Just three minutes after, Godin dribbled in from the left, shifted right and ripped a grounder at the net, but Hofknecht corralled the save.
“It was part of our plan once the game started for Amber Duhamel to stay on (Godin),” Pereira noted. “That girl can fly, and she has great ball skills with a tremendous shot. I told her she needed to be marking her at all times. The girl is dangerous.”
At the approximate 26th minute, Tolman’s Deandra Flynn rambled deep down the right side and drilled an impossible shot at Giambra, but it caromed off the right post and away from harm.
And, with less than five minutes to play before the break, Godin received a pass on the left, raced in and tried to punch the ball past Hofknecht, but the netminder made a superb sliding save.
That’s why the half ended with the Tigers up, 2-0, and with an 8-4 shot-on-goal advantage.
Bedoya produced a terrific try three minutes into the final stanza, but Giambra made the save. A minute later, she wasn’t as fortunate, as Bedoya pushed a pass at Clark, whose chip shot drifted over the goalie’s head and under the crossbar for the 3-0 lead.
Immediately, Woonsocket went on the offensive, and it paid off, as Godin juked a defender racing down the right side. When Hofknecht came out to cut down the angle, Godin made a stellar move outside and fired a grounder into the open net.
The ‘Novans (who fell to 0-11-1) seemingly had cut the deficit to 3-2 in the 18th minute. Godin accepted a long pass from freshman Abigail Blais, hustled in and drove an eight-yarder at Hofknecht, who made the save.
In the 22nd minute, the tide turned, as Flynn – who had taken a feed from sophomore Suzette Hernandez – lofted a high liner off Giambra’s hands and inside the goal for the 4-1 advantage.
Yet again, however, Godin responded. She raced down the right side from beyond the midfield stripe and slid a goal past Hofknecht and inside the right post to cut it to 4-2 in the 25th minute.
But Clark netted her fourth on a pass from sophomore McKenzie Hofknecht (the keeper’s kid sister) in the 31st minute, and Hernandez closed the scoring with four minutes left in regulation.
The elder Hofknecht finished with nine saves for the Tigers, while Giambra made 11 in the losing cause.
“I thought we played pretty well, given the rain and the mud,” Pereira stated. “We’re not worried about a playoff berth. The way (the R.I. Interscholastic League) set it up is that every team in III-A will qualify (for post-season), with the top four teams in III-B also making it.
“We have to work on some things, but we’re doing alright,” he added. “Woonsocket had some chances that worried me, but every time they scored, we’d come down and extend the lead. It’s a win, and we’ll take it.”