PROVIDENCE — The margin for error in Divi-sion II looks pretty slim so far this season.
Lincoln High, which lost in the D-II playoff semifinals last year, edged Moses Brown by a 1-0 margin on Tuesday afternoon in a contest that featured a total of two shots on goal, one for each side.
Senior forward Nick Lamothe converted teammate Matuez Puzanowski’s strong throw-in from the right sideline to provide the match’s only goal midway through the second half. The play was set up by a deft give-and-go passing exhibition down the right sideline by Lamothe and midfielder Eric Zannini, a little bit of creativity and teamwork that Lincoln coach John D’Aloisio appreciated.
“I told the kids sometimes we look good. Other times, we are just kicking the ball down the field and it’s ugly,” the coach said after the evenly-played match had ended. “We get disorganized sometimes. We need to build on what we are doing well. We need to create more when we control the ball.”
Lincoln has played two league matches thus far and won by a 1-0 margin in each one.
“I think there are a lot of good defensive teams in the league,” D’Aloisio said. “We’re going to play a lot of tight matches this season.”
The Lions can count on junior goalkeeper Jack Bacon, who was only seriously challenged on one ball during Tuesday’s match. Moses Brown forward William Atkinson got open momentarily with the ball on his right foot just 10 feet in front of Bacon early in the second half. Atkinson shot directly into Bacon, who charged forward to cut down the angle. The ball bounced over Bacon’s left shoulder and across the end line, preserving the scoreless tie.
Neither team could manage a shot of any kind during the match’s first 10 minutes. Lamothe finally drilled a high ball over top of the net at the 15-minute mark. Moses Brown only pressured Bacon once in the first half while Lincoln forced Quaker goalie Luis Hernandez to do some work on four occasions.
The tempo stepped up in the second half. After Atkinson nearly got a shot past Bacon, the Lions began to work the ball more cohesively with midfielder Alex D’Aloisio trying to trigger the offense. Bacon kept cleaning up long balls at his end. Finally, Bacon trapped a lengthy free kick and booted it to midfield. Zannini and Lamothe took control, working in tandem down the right sideline, passing the ball back and forth twice before the Quakers’ defense knocked the ball out of bounds to stop the advance.
On the ensuing throw-in, Lincoln co-captain Puzanowski picked up the ball at the right end line, held it over his head while looking for a target, and then delivered a powerful pass that Lamothe finished off with a well-timed header in traffic from eight yards out. Hernandez never had a chance.
Moses Brown coach Eric Aaronian then made two personnel changes, moving gifted midfielder Julio Barroso to the front line and sending defender Cory Lewis to midfield. Suddenly the game started to tilt in the Quakers’ favor. Moses Brown created several scoring chances down the stretch, never quite putting the ball on goal but making Bacon and the Lincoln defense work hard to protect their territory.
“After they scored,” Aaronian said, “we had to do something to get the equalizer. But we couldn’t get it done. Historically, Lincoln is a very strong team in our division. We lost to them in the quarterfinals last year. I guess today’s game tells me my team is a work in progress.”
D’Aloisio thinks the same of his club.
“This is a long season,” the coach said, noting that it’s still early September and the Division II regular season ends on Oct. 24. “We just have to keep working to get better, one game at a time.”
Lincoln returns to action on Friday night with a 6:30 p.m. home matchup against Mount Hope.