EPHS girls’ soccer team edges closer to unbeaten regular season

Townies are one win away from finishing slate undefeated

EastBayRI.com ·

REHOBOTH — The East Providence High School girls’ soccer team used a second half flourish to maintain its unblemished record in Division III games to date while handing host Lincoln School its first loss in the process as the Townies defeated the Lynx, 5-2, Tuesday afternoon, Oct. 17, at the Faxon Farm complex.

Grace Abrams was once again the offensive standout for the locals, scoring a hat-trick and pushing her season goals total to 35. Alyssa DeOliveira, who in recent weeks has become a consistent scoring threat at the top of the E.P. formation along with Abrams, added the other two tallies. Keeper Mia Jackson made three saves in net for the Townies.

Reigning league champion East Providence moved to 12-0-0 with the victory, which came three days after the Townies defeated rival Johnston, 3-2, in an emotional and physical rematch of last year’s D-III title match. For Lincoln, playing its first season in the Interscholastic League, the loss dropped the Lynx to 9-1-0.

“I think they (Lincoln) played exceptionally well. They’re what we expected, a really good team,” EPHS head coach Angelo Pizzi said.

The coach wasn’t pleased with the effort of his Townies in the opening 40 minutes Tuesday, expressing his displeasure during his team talk at the break. After having led at halftime in each of its other 11 games, East Providence for the first time this season entered intermission in a tie, 1-1. Abrams netted the Townies’ goal while Isabel Echeverry scored for the Lynx.

“The first half we weren’t playing our brand of soccer. I call it Townie soccer. We were playing a different soccer, kind of matching what they were doing. Our game is not doing what they do. We have our own style,” said Pizzi. “And it changed quite a bit in the second half. The ball was being played where it needed to. Grace was getting the ball where she needed to. The midfield wasn’t dropping as far back. In the first half, they were dropping too far back. And the defense used their abilities and technical skills.”

The Townies heeded their coach’s words, coming out the aggressors to start the second half. East Providence held possession and had a couple of looks at goal, though none on frame.

That changed for the better for the locals soon after. In the 48th minute, a Lincoln player was shaken up during a clean joust with DeOliveira for possession just outside the Lynx 18 yard box. Play resumed with an indirect kick for the Townies, taken by Abrams and perfectly directed to DeOliveira, who headed the ball past Lincoln keeper Sammi Rockwell (8 saves) for the go-ahead goal.

Some 12 minutes later and after East Providence continued to hold the majority of the ball, the Townies went up 3-1 on Abrams’ second tally. The senior striker scored following a nifty one-touch effort between herself and DeOliveira. Ashley Dias started the sequence with clear from the E.P. end to DeOliveira, who gathered then gifted Abrams with a pass in stride. The latter did the rest, beating both the last Lincoln defender and the keeper for the goal.

In the 67th minute, Abrams completed her hat-trick, this time taking a feed from Aaliyah Pattie and again using her speed to sprint past the Lincoln defense for a relatively easy tally.

“It’s all about what’s best for the team,” Abrams said, crediting her mates for her scoring prowess. “If the defense doesn’t get the ball up and play it through the middle then I wouldn’t have those opportunities to score. So without them, it’s virtually impossible.”

The Lynx made things a bit interesting when after the Townies were called for a foul inside their own box Lourdes-Maria Monteiro converted on the ensuing penalty kick in the 69th minute. Lincoln almost put a real scare in the Townies with around six minutes to play, but a shot from distance that sailed over Jackson’s outstretched arms clanged off the crossbar and away from net.

DeOliveira eventually iced the win for the Townies when in the 78th minute she took a long through ball from Lindsey Amaral for a break-away and slid a shot under the on-rushing Lincoln keeper Rockwell.

“I think that we showed heart,” Abrams said of the Townies’ effort Tuesday. “We came back after we were tied at half. I don’t think we’ve been tied at half the whole year, especially when we’ve been scored on. And so I think to come back, especially after our game with Johnston in which we were all hurt and sick and tired, we came out here and took care of business and go home with a win.”

East Providence appeared poised to complete what is likely the first perfect regular season in program history when the Townies close out their schedule Friday night, Oct. 20, against winless Mt. Pleasant. Kickoff for the contest is 6:30 p.m. Senior Night festivities are planned for the evening as well.

“Undefeated is a goal,” said Abrams. “At the beginning of the season we listed out all our goals and undefeated was one of those, so we’re working hard at doing that.”

It’s likely the Townies will have a near two-week wait for the start of the playoffs following the Mt. Pleasant game. When the postseason does begin, one of the E.P. captains along with Amaral and Hailey Placido said this year’s team isn’t trying to repeat what happened a year ago, but rather chart its own course in pursuit of another title.

Said Abrams, “It’s a new year, new players, new team and we’re just working hard to push what happened last season in the back of our minds and focus on what’s in front of us.”