NARRAGANSETT â€” The Coventry girlsâ€™ soccer team is eternally grateful that soccer matches at the high-school level last 80 minutes, not 40.
It was a tale of two halves on Wednesday at The Prout School for the Oakers, where the first 40 minutes of play saw Prout â€“ a past foe within the Division II ranks â€“ take complete control of the match in terms of possession and physicality against the prominently-physical Coventry XI.
But, the second half saw the Oakers regroup and regain that physical form to take control of the match, which resulted in a pair of second-half tallies to earn a tough 3-2 win over the Crusaders for their third victory in as many matches on the young season.
â€śI wasnâ€™t happy at all with the first-half performance by them,â€ť Coventry head coach Chris Daigneault said. â€śWe brought it in the second half, though, and I thought they played really well.â€ť
Although the season is still in its genesis, the victory by Coventry was impressive in that the team earned the win when the conditions werenâ€™t favorable, especially with most of those conditions self-inflicted.
In their previous two years at the Division I level, a match that the Oakers had on Wednesday, where the players werenâ€™t marking up on forwards at the midfield and allowing them to freely run up the touch lines for solid scoring opportunities, wouldâ€™ve resulted in a disastrous affair before the first half whistle was blown, let alone the final one.
Now, with Coventry already surpassing last yearâ€™s win total with Wednesdayâ€™s win, the confidence with the maturing Oakers is starting to grow at a rapid rate, which in turn is resulting in their play showing signs of the same dominance it had at the Division II ranks â€“ especially in 2006 when the Oakers topped Prout for the Division II championship.
â€śA little confidence is being built and their character is being built,â€ť Daigneault said. â€śTheyâ€™re understanding how to win a little bit. When Prout made it 3-2 with eight minutes to go, and they knew that they had to hold on against a good team, they bared down and didnâ€™t panic. They made some good passes. Theyâ€™re young and theyâ€™re still learning. We have all juniors this year that were sophomores last year. Theyâ€™re getting older and getting better.â€ť
â€śWeâ€™re so proud of ourselves,â€ť Coventry sweeper Kristina Almeida said. â€śWe canâ€™t believe that weâ€™ve made it this far. Weâ€™ve been working hard. Weâ€™ve been playing all summer. Weâ€™ve been exercising and working out more. We deserve this and weâ€™re so proud right now.â€ť
In the first half, Prout had control on the Oakersâ€™ side of the pitch for nearly the whole 40 minutes and Crusader midfielder Renee Altimari was at the forefront of bringing the play up field to give Prout a plethora of scoring chances. One of those chances came within the first 10 minutes when Altimari moved the ball around three Oaker defenders and got off a sliding shot with her left foot, a shot that was brilliantly saved by Coventry keeper Gianna Palermo.View more articles in: