Mighty La Salle blanks Smithfield

Mighty La Salle blanks Smithfield

The Smithfield High girls’ soccer team suffered a 3-0 loss to nationally-ranked La Salle Academy in Sunday’s state finals. Showing off their runner-up plaque are, from left, head coach Bob Squillante and seniors Martine Rizzo, Abby Proulx, Grace Beaudry, Riley Hart, Abby Leveille, and Meghan Flynn. (Breeze photos by Kayla Panu)
Back in girls’ soccer state finals for first time since 2012, Sentinels suffer 3-0 loss to undefeated Rams

JOHNSTON – With two goals scored in the first eight minutes of play, the La Salle Academy girls’ soccer team basically had its second straight state championship locked up before halftime of Monday afternoon’s Division I title game with Smithfield at Johnston High.

The Sentinels could never recover, and despite playing better defensively the rest of the way, they only managed to record one shot on net and ended up with a 3-0 loss.

While the Rams end their season with a perfect 18-0 record and their fourth state title in the past six years (and eighth since 2008), the loss ends a marvelous 12-4-2 season for the Sentinels, who were making their first trip to the finals since they won the state title in 2012.

“I’m so proud of this group,” Smithfield head coach Bob Squillante said. “They worked so hard to get here. It’s always a challenge playing La Salle Academy. They’re a tough team to beat. You have to be on your game, and they got some early opportunities there that they capitalized on, and that just made it really tough for the rest of the game.”

“But the fact that we got here is a true testament to the Sentinel grit,” Squillante continued. “We’ve just been physically and mentally tough all year long. We continued to improve as the season went on, and those efforts brought us to the state championship game. I’m really proud of them.”

The game did not start well for the Sentinels, even though they had early possession. The Rams, who are 18-0, quickly took over, keeping the ball out of their own zone, and they brought it into Smithfield territory and tested the Sentinels’ defense.

Not even four full minutes into the game, the Rams were on the board, as Samantha Hagerty fired a shot that snuck past goalkeeper Abby Leveille.

Less than four minutes after their first goal, the Rams struck again, as Paris Ellman lofted a shot over Leveille and into the back of the net. To be down 1-0 in a state championship game is daunting, but when the Sentinels quickly trailed by a 2-0 score, they knew they had to take a long road back.

“I thought we were a little nervous in the beginning,” Squillante said. “But La Salle is just a well-coached team, and (head coach) Lindsay (Longval) does a great job. They have a lot of talented players, and they just took advantage of some opportunities. They only gave up one goal all year long, so when you give up two or three goals, it’s going to be really difficult to come back.”

As the first half went on, the Rams continued to get the ball on Leveille, while the Sentinels could not get anything going offensively. The Sentinels finally got into La Salle territory, as Riley Hart tried to cross a pass to Kasey Ruo, but La Salle goalkeeper Krista Varrichione beat her to the ball.

The Rams then took the ball down the field, and taking advantage of a long throw-in by Jordan Teguis, they scored their third goal. Teguis threw the ball in as Olivia Freitas got a foot on it, and she passed the ball to Kaiya Boyd, who made it a 3-0 game with 4:44 left in the half.

With frustration and dismay, the Sentinels went into halftime down by three goals, but they were able to become more aggressive in the second half and did not allow another goal. Coming off the bench and providing some energy and physicality was Smithfield sophomore defender Jaclyn Colucci.

“She was definitely a spark plug,” Squillante said. “As the saying goes, she’s a bull in a china shop, and it just gave us a little extra boost, which we needed. We kind of got beat up a little bit in the first half and we needed to respond with a little physicality ourselves, and she certainly provided that.”

After the game, Squillante and his six seniors, Meghan Flynn, Grace Beaudry, Martine Rizzo, Abby Proulx, Leveille, and Hart, accepted the state runner-up plaque. “Our seniors did a fantastic job of leading this group,” Squillante said.

During the regular season, the Sentinels had given the Rams their toughest test of the season before falling, 1-0, on a goal by Hagerty with 2:54 to play in the game.

The Sentinels reached the finals by posting a 1-0 victory over South Kingstown on Wednesday, Nov. 7, at East Greenwich High. Proulx scored the goal 18 minutes into the second half off a corner kick by Ruo, and Leveille stopped eight shots for her seventh shutout of the season.

La Salle’s Olivia Freitas, left, and Smithfield ‘s Grace Beaudry chase down a loose ball during Monday afternoon’s state championship game at Johnston High. La Salle repeated as champions and won its eighth title since 2008 by posting a 3-0 victory.
Smithfield’s Riley Hart tries to tap the ball past La Salle’s Malena Corso.