WAKEFIELD – The South Kingstown girls soccer team got its 2013 season started in the right way Wednesday night, taking on Cranston West in its season opener at Curtis Corner Middle School.
The Rebels started off slow, but picked up their game in the second half and came away with a 3-1 win.
“It’s nice to get a win. It’s always nice to get a win,” said South Kingstown coach Toby Gibbons. “Happy for the girls, we really played some good soccer in the second half. Took us a half to get comfortable, but that happens early in the season.”
The night ended with a decisive score in favor of South, but did not start that way as the Rebels struggled through much of the opening half.
Both teams started relatively even, but momentum swung decidedly in the Falcons favor after drawing an off the ball foul on a corner kick and were awarded a penalty kick in the latter half of the first.
Though SK goalkeeper Bridget Montle made the stop on the penalty kick, the play seemed to ignite the Falcons, who ended up scoring about 70 seconds later in the 29th minute and went on to dominate much of the remainder of the half. Melanie Dougas put home a rebound off a shot from Eleni Grammas for a 1-0 Cranston West lead.
“We were a little flat. They have a lot of speed, you have to give them credit,” Gibbons said. “Their forwards are real quick and they were playing some nice balls through. We’re still getting used to playing with each other in the back, so we made some mistakes and they had some momentum there. They took it to us for probably 10 minutes near the middle of the end of the half.
“Then [we] got one, well deserved, kind of woke us up a little bit.”
Seemingly dead to rights, deep into injury time South finally got some offensive pressure on West and with just seconds left in the half the Rebels got the score back to even.
“It was the tale of two halves,” Gibbons said. “We had plenty of opportunities in that first half. We had three corners in the first half and we had balls dropping on the ground. We were just not getting to them in the air, so we finally went after a ball, knocked it free and Rachel Murphy stepped in like a good goal scorer does and put it in the net.”
With its own fire lit, South’s offense came out ablaze in the second half, gaining possession off the kickoff and making a number of quality bids on goal early. In the 45th minute, after the initial shot by Hannah Sorlien was denied, Christina Armstrong put home the rebound to give South their first lead of the season at 2-1.
Thwarted a number of times earlier in the contest, Sorlien finally broke through in the 54th minute to put away the game’s final goal, making it 3-1.
As the battle got heated near the middle of the second half, West reclaimed some its earlier fire, but Montle and the SK defense stood tall with a number of key stops late to preserve the lead and seal the win.
“She came out and made some big saves,” said South’s coach of his goalkeeper. “She has good instincts. She commands the area well. On a couple corners she came out aggressively and took the ball away from a Cranston West player.”
The second half turnaround by the Rebels not only helped them put their first win of the season in the books, but it also provided them with a solid building block for the season, showing the team and their coach the level of play they can be capable of this fall.
“That’s something we have to know how to do. Every team has to know how to play at their level,” Gibbons said. “It seemed like once we got that first goal, we went to another level that Cranston West couldn’t handle. I like the fact I knew that level was in us and it showed. Now the next step is we have to learn how to do that right from the opening kickoff and end games early.”
The Rebels have the rest of the week to relish in their season opening victory, getting the weekend off before returning to Curtis Corner Tuesday for a 6 p.m. match against Exeter-West Greenwich.