PAWTUCKET – Tolman High head coach Bel Pereira had hoped his squad would sew up what would've been a stellar 2-1 triumph over Division III-A rival St. Raphael Academy on Wednesday evening, but that wish fell by the wayside with one simple boot.
With 10 minutes left in regulation, and after a Tiger defender had been whistled for an infraction just outside her own zone's penalty box, officials awarded talented senior co-captain Kyanna Ivey-Jones an indirect kick from about 22 yards out.
Ivey-Jones, with one of the best natural kicks on her team, calmly knocked a floater just off the fingertips of junior goalie McKenzie Hofknecht and into the upper right corner of the net, giving the Saints a late 2-2 stalemate at McKinnon-Alves Field.
“I argued the call because (the ref) called an indirect kick, and that must touch at least two offensive players first,” Pereira explained afterward. “But because our keeper touched it, it goes as a goal. I thought she should've saved it, but McKenzie played well overall, as did our defense.”
It came of little surprise to the Tolman mentor, in his 17th season at the helm, that Ivey-Jones notched SRA's first tally with seven minutes remaining before the break. The good news for Tolman: Sophomore Morgan Clark tied it up on a feed from senior Maria Vergara less than a minute later.
With the score knotted at 1-1 at the break, Vergara manufactured an unassisted goal less than a minute into the final session to give the Tigers the 2-1 cushion it needed. After that, both clubs mustered stellar scoring opportunities but couldn't convert – that is, until Ivey-Jones delivered the game-tying tally.
All told, the Saints' senior netminder Junishia Fofana closed with 12 saves in the deadlock, while Hofknecht stopped 14 SRA tries.
“We're getting better, let's put it that way,” Pereira grinned after his crew improved to 0-3-1 in league action. “Our defense and midfield play were pretty solid, but we still need to learn how to finish. It's not a surprise that we've been lacking offense; I lost (senior) Ashley Clark (to graduation), and she led us in goals last year with 19. She helped us get to the Division III final.
“Still, it's a good point for us; we achieved it against a very good team,” he added. “They're well-coached (by Michael Ross Drake), and they have a lot of talent, so we'll take it.”