WOONSOCKET — Mount St. Charles had plans of issuing Lincoln High a mild upset loss on its “Senior Day,” one in which underclassmen traditionally honor their 12th graders for four years of devotion to the program.
Unfortunately for the Mount, a Lions’ sophomore ruined the party.
Erin Gannon notched a pair of goals in the span of four minutes not long after the opening touch, and the last proved to be crucial as Lincoln manufactured a 3-1 Division II victory on the lower-campus turf on Thursday afternoon.
Gannon converted an unassisted tally a mere seven minutes into the contest, then knocked home senior forward Brittany Redding’s feed in the 11th minute to help the Lions improve to 9-2-3 overall and in league action.
“Erin got us going, and she played fantastic,” stated head coach Chris Allen after the Lions secured for itself third place in the D-II. “Those two goals helped us organize ourselves pretty quickly. We didn’t have to worry about the first 10-minute jitters, and they got our heads into the game.
“Mount always has a good team, and it’s always a good game when we play them,” he added. “For a finale, I thought we had a good possession game, which allowed us to create some chances and get some shots on net. Early on, we took advantage of those chances.”
The way Allen figures it, his squad will be the third-ranked team (behind first-place Exeter/West Greenwich and runner-up Pilgrim) when coaches convene for the state D-II tournament seeding meeting tonight at Interscholastic League headquarters at Rhode Island College.
The top four teams earn automatic byes, so Allen and Co. would have to wait for those rated No. 5-12 to play first-round tilts before the Lions knew who they would face.
As for the Mounties, mentor Marek Wolny wasn’t quite so sure where his club stood. They finished at 8-5-2 overall and 7-5-1 in league. If Tiverton lost to Pilgrim late Thursday night, Wolny believed his squad would secure the fourth seed and snare not just a bye but a home game.
“We’re definitely playoff-bound, and if Pilgrim wins, I think we own the tiebreaker, so we’d be the fourth seed,” he stated. “That means we’d have the bye, but I don’t want to get ahead of myself. We’ll know more (tonight).
“I thought this was a really good game,” he continued. “Lincoln played very well, and I thought they were a little bit stronger than we were in that second half. They finished in front of the net, and we struggled with that. I think we dominated the second half, but we couldn’t find the back of the net.”
Following Gannon’s two goals, Mount St. Charles became more aggressive, and that helped it produce some quality shots. With 16:45 remaining in the opening session, senior defender/quad-captain Cassie Roberge drilled a 35-yard shot from the right at junior keeper Lauren Hervieux, but it soared wide right of the post.
A mere 2:35 later, junior Dorothea Moniz lofted a bouncing try at Hervieux, but she secured it. The Mounties continued their surge; with 3:27 left before the break, sophomore Deandra Duarte fired a 27-yard shot from outside the left segment of the box, but Hervieux made a leaping grab.
And, with 2:25 remaining, tri-captain Haley Connors roped a left-side corner kick at the goalie box, and the tall, lanky Roberge headed it at the het, but it missed the right post by, perhaps, a foot.
MSC finally sliced the Lincoln lead in half in the 39th minute; that’s when Connors drove a pretty right-to-left cross to sophomore Erin Mastaj. The latter, stationed by the rear left post, ripped a low liner past Herveiux, and the hometowners left the field for intermission down, 2-1.
“They put some pressure on us at the tail end of the first half, but we were able to hold them off until halftime, then re-plan our strategy for the second,” Allen noted.
That chat worked wonders, as the Lions needed little time to cushion their advantage. At the 3:50 mark of the final stanza, senior defender Megan Young ripped a left-side corner kick toward the middle of the box, and a few foes grappled for possession.
MSC junior Olivia Boyce immediately tried to drive the ball out, but Lincoln senior midfielder Annie Carroll recovered the rebound and booted it past junior back-up goalie Allison Gibbons to extend its lead to 3-1.
Wolny’s crew, though, immediately picked it up a notch. Approximately five minutes after that tally, it seemed as if the Mounties would tie it up when Connors took a 20-yard direct kick from just outside the box’ right section, but it just missed hitting the crossbar.
About 4:30 later, in the 14th minute, Roberge rocketed a 40-yard direct kick at the cage, but that, too, sailed a couple of feet over the bar.
With only 12:28 remaining, Boyce snuck inside the box and, unmarked, fired a wide-open shot at the net, but that missed wide left.
It looked as if Lincoln would make it a three-goal win with just over five minutes left; sophomore forward Elizabeth Young received a through ball for a breakaway and rifled it at Gibbons, though the latter lunged for a terrific save.
All told, Hervieux stopped eight shots for the Lions, and Gibbons (who had replaced injured senior quad-captain/goalie Nicole Butts) managed 11 saves.
Allen credited senior co-captain Marissa D’Amelio, classmate Young and junior Serena Balon for playing stellar defense, while Wolny liked the way his defenders – including Roberge, senior Boyce and junior Theresa Pereira – kept Lincoln off-balance, at least for the most part.
“Marissa and Meg are our last line of defense, and they’re great players,” Allen offered. “They’re phenomenal as communicators; they play so well together.”
Noted Wolny: “I thought we started slowly, but played very well the remainder of the first half. We were a little flat in the second, and it took us a while to get going. They put some pressure on us early in the first half, but I thought we picked it up (over the final 30 minutes). We just didn’t finish.”