State soccer playoffs starting for middle school boys

State soccer playoffs starting for middle school boys

Winning their last three games, the North Cumberland Middle School boys soccer team snatched second place in the North Division and will host a first-round playoff game.

Last week, the team played its final regular season contest and came away with a 5-1 win over Mount St. Charles Academy to complete the regular season at 9-3-0, second to Ponaganset's 9-0-3.

Burrillville, at 8-4, is the North Division's third-place finisher and the fourth and final playoff berth went to Lincoln at 4-6-2. They were followed in the standings by McCourt, 3-8-1; Mount St. Charles, 2-7-3, and North Smithfield, 1-8-3.

First year NCMS coach Jon Pais said he is both excited and proud that his team earned its way into the playoffs during his first season at the helm.

"We are definitely going to have to pick up our game if we want to make a strong run in the playoffs," said Pais. "The competition is tough in the other divisions, but I have faith in this team and I know that we have the potential to win it all."

Aidan Bagley, Jack Andrews and Jason Diedrich had the NCMS goals.

Ponaganset completed an undefeated regular season by taming Lincoln, 2-0. It was the eighth consecutive shutout win for the Chieftains and their keeper, Deven Atkinson.

"Deven even saved a penalty kick opportunity that was awarded to Lincoln," said coach Sumiyo Lupini.

Ponaganset's first score came just 17 seconds into the match when Evan Halberg passed the ball to Scott Barber, who rifled it into the net.

The score remained 1-0 until the second half, when Halberg scored off a free kick from the 25-yard mark. It was an arcing shot that arched in just over the Lincoln keeper's hands.

"But our defense once again was unbreachable," said Lupini. "That's been our strength all season."

Although his young team lost, Lincoln coach Vern Howard was optimistic.

"We played our best game of the year," said Howard. "We are a team lacking a forward or a guy who can score, so we have to manufacture goals by working the ball up and down the field and looking for a easy tap in. Today we played total soccer, the midfielders and defenders played as one unit moving the ball around the field looking for the right chance or opening."

Howard said he remains optimistic heading into the playoffs even though his Lions will be taking on Jenks of Pawtucket, the top seed in the East Division.

"If we can play like we did today we have a great chance against anyone," said the coach.

North Smithfield, in its final game of the season, finally won. After coming close on numerous occasions only to fall short, including a pair of ties against first-place Ponaganset, coach Ed Cabana's team finally made it into the win column for the first time with a 2-1 decision over McCourt.

"We finally won a game," said Cabana.

Riley Crozier and Justin DeCelles tallied the North Smithfield goals, with DeCelles notching the game-winner.

"But the most valuable player of this game was Quinten Anderson, who was assigned to mark the top player on McCourt and he totally shut him down the entire game," said Cabana. "That kid killed us the first time we played.

Leading the way for the Northmen were Nate Bursell, Michael Fernandes, Liam Zonin and Ryan Deslauriers.

Defensive leaders were Jarrod Dube, Kyle Haner and Jake Labonte.

In the opening round of playoffs, Ponaganset hosted Slater of Pawtucket; Gallagher of Smithfield traveled to Wickford; Cole of East Greenwich hosted Chariho; Lincoln traveled to Jenks of Pawtucket; Feinstein of Coventry hosted Davisville, North Cumberland hosted Jamestown, and Deering traveled to Curtis Corner.