Gallagher girls win state title in shoot out

Gallagher girls win state title in shoot out

PROVIDENCE - In an epic stomach-knotting battle, the Gallagher Middle School girls soccer team pulled out a shoot-out win over Kickemuit Middle School Monday afternoon at Classical High School to win the state championship.

It was the first Gallagher girls state title in more than a decade and first for coach Kate McCurdy, who has been at the helm eight seasons.

"We've never made it past the round of eight before this," said McCurdy. "The girls really worked hard and deserved this. We're just so really excited. I'm just glad we were on the right end of the shoot out."

Although each team had scoring chances, no one could find the back of the net through regulation and two overtimes, setting the stage for the shoot out, when each team selected five players to take a single penalty shot.

Kickemuit began the shoot out with a score, but Gallagher's Zoie Allen matched it. Kickemuit moved ahead 2-1 after scoring when Hannah Dauray's shot just missed, but keeper Abby Leveillee got Gallagher back into the match when she stoned a Kickemuit shooter and Taylor Cobain, Gallagher's leading scorer, found the right corner to tie the game.

The next three Kickemuit shooters scored, but so did Gallagher with perfect placements from Abby Proulx, Maggie Hickey and then Kathryn Pezaris as the teams advanced to a sixth shooter.

With the score tied, Leveille made what was the biggest stop of her career, diving to her right and turning aside what appeared to be a perfect goal.

That set the stage for Gallagher's seventh shooter, Riley Hart, and she didn't miss, blasting one into the corner for the game-winner that brought Gallagher the title.

"That was a really huge save by Abby and we all just went nuts when she made it," said McCurdy. "And then Riley got to take the last shot and she looked as composed as could be and put it in. We're all just so excited."

On their road to the state championship, Gallagher defeated Chariho, 4-1 in their opening round game and then hosted Portsmouth, the second seed from the Eastern Division. Gallagher, undefeated this season, was the top seed in the Central Division.

"The Portsmouth game had me really nervous because they are a good team and have some people with exceptional foot skills," said McCurdy. "They scored first, but then we found our rhythm."

Cobain tied the score, taking a centering pass from Dauray and blasting past the keeper. Gallagher then took the lead with Cobain scoring again, this time on a header following a throw-in by Pezaris, and the half ended with the Smithfield girls nursing a penny lead at 2-1.

Two minutes into the second half, Dauray defeated a ball past the defense and Abby Proulx was in just the right position, collecting the ball and kicking it into the net.

Zoie Allen capped off the Gallagher scoring by nailing a penalty kick, and it was 4-1. Portsmouth scored in the waning minutes to make the final 4-2.

In the semifinals, Gallagher faced Burrillville, the number-one seed from the Northern Division, and came away with a 4-1 win.

"They were definitely big, strong and aggressive, but we had more speed and that's what helped us," said McCurdy.

Gallagher set the tone early, scoring at the 3:40 mark when Cobain found the mark with a header, and five minutes later, Allen scored after a sequence of passes from Cobain and Hart.

Just before half, Cobain scored again, this time assisted by Hart, and the final score came in the first half when Proulx took a pass from Cobain and scored.

With a 4-0 lead, the Gallagher girls held on by stressing defense in the second half.

The Burrillville goal came from Caysie Gautreau.

"It was our defense that made the difference in that game, and Olivia Lasorsa and Hannah Dauray both did a fantastic job," said the coach.

Members of the state championship team are Zoie Allen, Samantha Nicynski, Jenna Pezza, Kasey Ruo, Riley Hart, Sarah Melaragno, Hannah Dauray, Olivia Lasorsa, Jessica Nicholson, Maggie Hickey, Taylor Graziano, Taylor Cobain, Meghan Flynn, Jillian Joyce, Grace Beaudry, Martine Rizzo, Kathryn Pezaris, Lily Caswell, Mallory Sanderson, Megan Boory and Abby Leveille.