Shea surges into soccer semifinals

Shea surges into soccer semifinals

Shea's Leandro Alves sends the ball past East Greenwich's Ross Trinque and toward the Avengers' goal during Friday's Division I quarterfinal-round game at Max Read Field. Alves scored his 30th goal of the season to help the Raiders net a 4-0 triumph and advance to Thursday's semifinal-round game vs. La Salle Academy at Johnston High School. (Valley Breeze photo by Kayla Panu)
Unbeaten Raiders rule Avengers, set sights on battle vs. La Salle

PAWTUCKET - With an offensive push and a strong performance in goal, the Shea High boys' soccer team cruised to an easy victory in its Division I quarterfinal-round opener last Friday afternoon, eliminating East Greenwich High, 4-0, at Max Read Field.

"We expected a tough East Greenwich team," Shea head coach Pierre Ridore said after his top-seeded team defeated the eighth-seeded Avengers, who Shea defeated by a 3-0 score earlier in the season. "Two weeks ago, (East Greenwich) came back four goals down (against La Salle). They were not going to give up."

With the win, the Raiders remain undefeated at 15-0 and will play another tough team on Thursday in the semifinals at Johnston High School's new turf complex. Defending state champion La Salle, the tournament's fifth seed, posted a 2-0 victory over fourth-seeded Central Falls late Monday night at Macomber Stadium.

It will be the Raiders' fourth trip to the semis in the past five seasons. They lost in this round last year to North Kingstown, 1-0, but won to reach the finals in 2010 and SSRq11

"I'm just proud of the kids," Ridore said. "They show up to practice every night, even in the rain. We practice at night to get used to the cold. And everything starts with Leandro (Alves), a good setup for all the boys and a great example."

Shea took a 1-0 lead in the first half, but really broke out in the second with its other three goals. Ridore noted that his team was trying to do everything individually in the opening half and not doing the one-two touch or moving the ball.

Leandro Alves and Jose Escamilla took shots for the Raiders early in the game that sailed wide, but as East Greenwich took the ball toward midfield, Shea's Bryan Mosquera got control of it and lofted a high pass to Carlos Fernandes. As the ball came down, he shot it and scored what turned out to be the only goal the Raiders needed.

As the half went on, the Raiders settled down and got back to passing and making space, but they weren't able to get another goal before halftime. Alves had a few chances that ended up either just over the net or knocked away.

Before the whistle ended the half, the Avengers got a free kick that was taken by Joseph Madden, but Shea's keeper, Wilson Delgado Fernandes, dove out to grab the ball. It was one of his three saves in the game.

"The offense gets credit, but this was our ninth shutout of the season," Ridore said. "(Delgado Fernandes) is solid every game. Camragha Namusse has also been stepping it up big time (as the sweeper), but our keeper is working hard every day. I'm happy for him stepping up. Midway through last year, I pulled Wilson out, but he came back and worked hard, and he is making me smile."

Down 1-0 heading into the second half, the Avengers started to get frustrated and let it show, but the Raiders kept being pesky and got into the Avengers' heads. Fernandes, who has 20 goals this season, almost had another one with a header, but it was just wide of the net, and Ruben Gomes also had a nice shot that ended up going wide.

As the Raiders started to put things together, Alves was everywhere and the Avengers were none too pleased. Mosquera got the ball away from an East Greenwich player and passed it up to Fabio Gomes. He found Alves, who had to give it to Fernandes, but Fernandes went back to Alves, who scored his 30th goal of the season to give Shea a 2-0 advantage.

Two minutes later, Shea went up 3-0 on a goal by Ruben Gomes that was assisted by Alves, but minutes after that goal, Ryan Douglas slid into the legs of Alves and took him down. Alves stayed on the ground for a while, but eventually was able to get up and off the field. He did not return to the game.

"Leandro was hit in the knee," Ridore said. "I think he will be OK. We have some time, as we don't play again until Thursday. We have a good team, but we definitely don't want to see our best player go down."

Almeida was awarded a penalty kick, but was not able to score on Avengers goalkeeper Nolan Cooney, who ended up with eight saves in the game.

As the second half continued, Ridore began to put in his younger players. The Raiders got the ball away from the Avengers and pushed it up the field. The ball went to sophomore Wolfio Neto, who had missed his other opportunities, but sunk his next one into the net for the Raiders' final goal.

"(Neto) is one of our bright spots this year," Ridore said. "He was on varsity at the beginning of the year, but his confidence was down, so I send him down to JV. His confidence came back and now he is doing great."

Shea's Fabio Gomes, left, and East Greenwich's Jordan Melnick chase down a ball near the sideline during their Division I quarterfinal-round contest at Max Read Field. The host Raiders netted a 4-0 victory and will face La Salle in the semifinals on Thursday night in Johnston. (VAlley Breeze photo by Kayla Panu)