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WEST WARWICKâ€”To put it simply, the more physical team won the de-facto Division III-A girls soccer title game Friday afternoon.
Chariho, which was coming off a bad run of recent results following an undefeated start to the season, pushed and moved West Warwick around the field to secure the division title just three seasons after winning just one game.
Standout sophomore midfielder Katie Cuddy scored goals in the 15th and 66th minutes, while senior captain Meghan Rousseau added an important goal early in the second half to lift the Charger to a 3-1 road win.
â€śI didnâ€™t recognize our team in the loss to Moses Brown and I thought we had a lot of chances, but we didnâ€™t score against North Providence,â€ť Chariho
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coach Brittney Godbout said. â€śI thought we were a little more physical than them and that is a different West Warwick team than the one we played before.â€ť
â€śThey were more physical and I have to give them credit for that,â€ť West Warwick coach Dan Lima said. â€śI think they came in, played and took the game away from us. They were definitely more physical than us, but I donâ€™t think we were there mentally. We were a little down.â€ť
West Warwick (10-2-1 Division III-A) knows it will still be the No. 2 seed in the upcoming playoffs with a victory over North Providence on Wednesday night. Moses Brown can still catch the Wizards if they win their final four games.
Sophomore forward Faith Couture grabbed a consolation goal in the 74th minute after a nice free kick into the Chariho penalty box by midfielder Alissa Rankin.
â€śI think they were beating us to a lot of balls,â€ť Couture said. â€śWe had the chances but I guess we just didnâ€™t put them away. They beat us the first time, but they came into the game with the same record. We felt that we played a good game the first time and wanted to do it again today.â€ť
Chariho (11-1-1 Division III-A) can guarantee itself the Division III-A title outright with a victory over struggling St. Raphael Wednesday night (results unavailable at press time).
Godbout said the biggest reason the Chargers went from one win in 2010, to the semifinals last year, to 11 wins this year is the teamâ€™s trio of captains. Rosseau, Ryan Tracy and Rayanne Enos have guided a team which is filled with eight seniors.
â€śThe girls are used to being the underdogs and we only have eight juniors and seniors on the team, so our captains have been important all year,â€ť Godbout said. â€śTheyâ€™ve done a great job making sure everyone is ready to play.â€ť
West Warwick received some bad news prior to what was their biggest regular-season game in a number of years. Freshman goalie Ashley Tapia couldnâ€™t play in Fridayâ€™s game and she wonâ€™t be available next week either, so freshman back-up goalie Carissa Gaglione was forced into a starting role.
Lima said the situation took a little air out of the Wizards.
â€śIt took the wind out of the girls,â€ť Lima said. â€śI think everybody emotionally was out of it today and I can understand that because when I got the call that she couldnâ€™t play I was totally down. Now we know our situation and we know what we have to play with going into the next game.â€ť
After controlling the opening 15 minutes the Chargers opened the scoring when a corner kick bounced along the six-yard box before Cuddy redirected it through a phalanx of players and past Gaglione.
â€śThatâ€™s something weâ€™ve been working on in practice,â€ť Godbout said. â€śWe want to start fast and build a lead and make the other team play from behind.â€ť
Rankin forced Chariho goalie Silvana Terranova to make a nice save off a free kick in the 31st minute before the Chargers grabbed a 2-0 lead early in the second half when Gaglione made a save, but Rousseau corralled the loose ball and scored into the empty net.
Cuddy scored again later in the half before Couture grabbed a consolation goal in the 74th minute.
â€śWe thought if we played well enough we could beat them, but I guess we just didnâ€™t play all that well,â€ť Couture said. â€śIf we face them again we definitely have to put our chances away. Theyâ€™re a physical team, so we have to play their game and connect the passes. We need to play how we know to play.â€ť