CUMBERLAND — The same ol’ affliction keeps raring it’s ugly head for Cumberland High.
That’s why head coach Anthony Silva promised moments after a 0-0 Division I stalemate with Barrington on the Tucker Field Annex turf on Tuesday afternoon that his primary focus at today’s practice session would be creating more offense.
“I thought we played well overall,” he sighed following the bittersweet tie, one that left the Clippers at 1-2-1 overall and in league action. “We’ve been lacking offense, and – sometimes – that’s just the way the game of soccer goes.
“We had a lot of time of possession, and we had our chances on net, but we couldn’t convert,” he added. “We’re just not finishing. This is the third game in a row that we haven’t scored, and – if we want to do well in the division – we’re going to have to find the back of the net. We really need to break this scoring drought.”
Cumberland produced four shots on goal in the first session alone, and another eight in the final half, but came away with nothing. Fortunately, the same could be said for the Eagles, who racked up eight shots but were stymied by junior keeper Caitlin Cotter, not to mention a ferocious defense.
She finished with eight saves, while fellow Barrington netminder Emma Gurchiek closed with a dozen.
The Eagles remained winless at 0-2-1.
After a win over Toll Gate and successive losses to Bay View and Coventry, the Clippers desperately wanted to gain a victory on Tuesday.
“I thought our greatest strength here was our possession, and – like I said – finishing was our primary weakness,” Silva mentioned. “We had possessions, and I thought we controlled the midfield for most of the second half, but we couldn’t knock it home.”
Silva praised the defensive efforts of senior Sydney Beadles; sophomores Sarah Marsland, Courtney Whalen, Lauren Smith and Gwen Emery; and freshmen Julianne Ross and Abigail Drezek. The reason: For the most part, they kept the foes clear of goalie Cotter.
“I thought Sara and Gwen did a great job of controlling the midfield, and – whenever they made a run – they’d be there to drive it away,” Silva noted. “Caitlin played very aggressively, coming out of the goal to cut down angles and secure the ball.”
Cumberland mustered four scoring opportunities in the initial stanza, but Gurchiek stopped each one. Over the last 40 minutes, each team had surges but failed to convert any.
Approximately five minutes into that final half, Barrington senior tri-captain Kelly Thayer sent a pass to classmate Elizabeth Nowak down the right side, and the latter whacked a cross-field pass and through the box to junior Charlotte Jenkins, who was streaking down the right side. Jenkins took the feed and poked it at sophomore Caroline Larisa, who fired from seven yards out at Cotter, but it sailed inches past the right post.
A few moments later, sophomore Madeline Smith dribbled the ball down the right side and past junior defender Annie Sullivan, but Sullivan recovered and knocked it from harm’s way.
Clippers’ senior captain Elena Rittling had her chance to play heroine at the eight-minute mark, maneuvering down the right portion of the field and firing a 28-yard try on net, though Gurchiek snatched the save.
Perhaps the stop of the afternoon occurred with about 13 minutes elapsed in the second, when co-captain Aimee Malbouf took a right-side corner kick and passed it back to sophomore Lauren Smith, who walloped a low liner at the Barrington cage. Gurchiek made the initial save, and – with sophomore Rachel Haviland stationed a yard in front – she dove for the rebound and cradled it.
Minutes later, the contest became even more intriguing. At the midway point, senior Kim Hoyt delivered a left corner boot in front of the net, and Barrington teammate Hannah Tremblay headed the ball toward Cotter, though she made a leaping grab.
With 15 minutes left in regulation, Madeline Smith flew down the center of the field, juked a defender and scorched a grounder at Gurchiek, who dove for the save. About five minutes later, with 10 left, Rittling moved down the left side and centered her feed to her fellow captain Malbouf. She roped an attempt at the netminder, but she made a sprawling stop.
The Clippers’ final true chance came with about three minutes remaining; that’s when Marsland dribbled the ball down the right sideline, passed it to herself and behind a defender and scorched a ground shot at Gurchiek, who again dove for the save.
With approximately 90 ticks left, Cumberland’s Ross went down in a heap in her own offensive zone, and lay for several minutes, Silva by her side. She eventually returned to her feet.
“She’s OK; I think that fall just shook her up a bit,” Silva stated. “She hit her face on the ground, but she’s going to be fine.
“There were times I thought Caitlin was in trouble, but our defense stepped up big, and she made some truly great saves,” he continued. “On the positive side, we had some phenomenal defense. Hey, we didn’t give up any goals, but we didn’t score any, either. We’re going to have to fix that.”
He had referred to the next tilt, slated for 2 p.m., Saturday at La Salle Academy.
“We need to figure this (scoring issue) out,” he said.