Cougar soccer boys show improvement

Cougar soccer boys show improvement

GLOCESTER - The summer heat came back in full force on Wednesday as the Ponaganset High School boys' varsity soccer team sweated out a 3-0 victory over North Providence in Division III action.

After a season opening loss to North Smithfield and a tie in Burrillville, the Chieftains finally broke out, taking control and keeping it for the shutout.

"This is great to get a win," Ponaganset head coach Michael Ferns said. "They have been playing really well."

Ferns said that this year they kept a lot of players on their roster. So many players, that they've had to find old uniforms to have the team fully fitted out. But those numbers came in handy Wednesday on the 90 degree September afternoon.

"It's nice to have big numbers in a game like this," Ferns said. "Because of the heat I had a lot of rotations. It was just a complete team effort."

The Cougars started the game with possession but did not keep it for long as the Chieftains took control and passed the ball down the field. Jacob Carter passed over to Alex Vivieros who crossed to Mike Dutka. Dutka went with the ball and shot at the net but it was blocked and they set up for a corner kick.

Brandon Knox took the corner attempt as Nick Fernandez missed his opportunity to knock it in. But Eric Maynard was there, he just over shot as his attempt went over the net.

The Chieftains kept the pressure up trying to keep the ball in Cougar territory. Cougar Marc Betancourt stole it from Cameron Thomson and passed to Christian Valencia. Valencia's powerful kick was blocked by Fernandez and the Chieftains took back the ball.

Knox had it taken from him by Konstantinos Kosmidis, but the ball stayed in Cougar territory. Thomson and Vivieros controlled it before Thomson tripped over the ball. Dutka stayed with it, sending it in the Cougar net for the first goal.

A few minutes later the Chieftains were back to bombarding the Cougar net. Maynard had possession before Kosmidis fouled him giving the Chieftains a free kick. The kick hit the top of the net and bounced back toward the waiting Chieftains in Thomson and Tim Gelsomino. It went off Thomson's chest just missing the goal but Gelsomino was there to kick it in for the 2-0 advantage.

The Cougars came out in the second half able to control the ball longer but still could not put the ball in the net. They had a good opportunity in the first few minutes of the second as a shot went wide giving North Providence a corner kick.

As the ball was launched in the air it was then headed by Valencia forcing Ponaganset keeper, Kyle Blanchard, out of the net to catch the ball. It went in and out of his hands but fell in front of him outside of the goal.

The Cougars earned another corner but this time it was headed out by Ponaganset.

The Chieftain defense held the Cougars scoreless as they tacked on one more goal in the last minutes of play as Carter set up Danny Keefe. Keefe's shot sailed right by the North Providence keeper to take what would be the 3-0 victory.

The Cougars rebounded strong from the Ponaganset loss and took on first place North Smithfield. North Providence took a 1-0 lead when a booming kick by Christian Valencia found its mark, and the Cougar defense held the Northmen at bay, leaving the field at half with a 1-0 lead.

But North Smithfield scored two second half goals and came away with the 2-1 win.

"We gave it our all but ended up losing a close game," said NPHS coach Fred Morrison. "North Smithfield is in first place and we really gave them a great game. Their coach actually complimented the play of our team. Matt Ortiz played excellent in goal."

On Saturday, North Providence took on Division I Central Falls in a non-league contest and lost, 4-0, but Morrison was encouraged.

"We are starting to gel as a team and hopefully we can start putting some wins under our belt," said Morrison. "We really looked good against a Division I team. I think it is just a matter of gaining confidence."