Sports editor emeritus
PAWTUCKET – Shea High often takes its sweet old time getting into gear on offense, an early-season trait coach Danielle Bishop hopes to correct in a hurry.
“It will hurt us against the better teams,” Bishop admitted on Wednesday after her Raiders rallied from a 1-0 halftime deficit to dump Davies 3-1 in a Division III-B matchup.
Davies came out in determined fashion on offense, controlling play for the first five minutes. Patriots forward Kebelin Toloza made a strong run towards Shea’s goal and was tripped up inside the penalty box, according to the officials. Midfielder Jennifer Delcompare nailed the ensuing penalty kick into the left side of the net, beating Shea goalie Jessica Caetano, who had no chance on the play.
The Raiders came into this home game as a solid favorite to win, based on their 4-1-1 division record. Shea had outscored its opponents 17-4 over those six games, losing 1-0 to Central and settling for a 0-0 tie with Central Falls (also 4-1-1).
Davies, 2-3-2 heading into the game, had tied Central 0-0 but lost 4-0 to CF and 7-0 to powerful Rogers. The Patriots continued to control action in the first half on Wednesday after taking a 1-0 lead. Shea began to press its attack in the final 20 minutes of the half but rarely put a shot on goal and if the Raiders did get off a shot, Davies goalie Samantha Soares was right on the job, making saves and booting the ball to midfield, a tactic that prevented Shea’s offense from clicking.
Coach Bishop talked sternly to her team at halftime.
“If you think we are a better team than Davies, you better show it,” she lectured her players.
The lecture worked wonders. And so did an earlier position switch. Bishop moved Caetano out of goal and on to the front line with 10 minutes left in the half and that position switch would greatly enhance Shea’s attack.
Still, the first goal didn’t come easily, even though the Raiders began to totally dominate the flow of play after intermission. Davies’ defense fought hard to break up plays and hustle to the ball but soon it became apparent that the Raiders were winning most of the balls that were up for grabs.
“We played good in the first half,” assistant coach Orlando Monteiro said. “In the second half, we were not as aggressive. Shea started to dominate us. They seemed to want it a little bit more than we did.”
Soares made a diving stop in front of her goal in the first minute of the second half. The Raiders were getting solid work at left wing from Lourdes Anariba, whose ball skills were difficult to contain. Over on the right side of the offense, Caetano and midfielder Anete Encarnaco teamed up to start several forays into the teeth of Davies’ defense, only to be denied.
Anariba made the play of the game 16 minutes into the second half, gaining control of a ball that nearly went out of bounds, turning and dribbling between two defenders before lofting a high shot over Soares that settled in the far corner of the goal to tie the game at 1-1.
The Raiders kept the pressure on for the next 15 minutes without anything to show for it. It seemed inevitable the next goal would be theirs as only rarely did Davies get the ball over midfield, and then just briefly before Shea’s defense sent it back the other way.
The winning goal came on a play started by forward Lisa Andrade, who passed the ball to Caetano 10 yards in front of the goal. Dilma Goncalves took the ball from Caetano and finished off the play with a hard shot past Soares.
Two minutes later, Goncalves would seal the victory with a longer shot from 20 yards out that found the net.
“Dilma is our leading scorer so far this season,” Bishop admitted. “I moved Jessica (Caetano) to forward to give our offense a little spark in the first half. We seemed to need a spark. And Lourdes (Anariba) made a great hustle play on our first goal. That was her first goal of the season.”
The Raiders now head into the teeth of the schedule as they visit unbeaten Rogers on Friday afternoon. The Vikings have outscored their opponents 48-3 while rolling to a 6-0-0 mark. Shea and CF are in second place with 5-1-1 records.