MSC girls’ soccer team ‘reloads’ for D-II title defense

MSC girls’ soccer team ‘reloads’ for D-II title defense

Mount Saint Charles junior Sophie Staelen, left, steps in front of Ponaganset’s Emma Papa and prevents the ball from going out of bounds during the Mounties’ D-II opener last Wednesday, Sept. 4. The Chieftains posted a 1-0 victory. (Breeze photos by Kayla Panu)
Rough start: Defending champs begin season with back-to-back 1-0 defeats

WOONSOCKET – After capturing the first Division II championship in its program’s history last year, the Mount Saint Charles Academy girls’ soccer team is back for its title defense, but with only three starters returning and 14 new players added to its roster.

“(Last season) was exciting,” Mount head coach Phil Pincince said. “I just think (the players) bought into (how) we wanted to be a team, not a bunch of individuals. And they performed well and got better. We got so much better by the end of the season and it showed, and that’s what we’re hoping to do with this (team).”

Pincince had been the women’s soccer coach at Brown University for 39 seasons before retiring in 2015, and after some time off, he took over Mount’s program last season. He inherited a team that had talent and veteran experience, and everything came together.

Pincince said his team went from having 10-11 seniors last year to only two this season, and they are the captains, Delaney Green and Ava Sangiovanni.

Green, who is a forward, is one of the returning starters from last year’s championship game. The other two are midfielders Karissa Ciullo and Kylie Perron.

Unfortunately for the Mounties, their season has not gotten off to a good start. They dropped their first three games, starting with their season-opening 1-0 loss at home to Ponaganset last Wednesday, Sept. 4. The Chieftains scored their goal off a corner kick with 14:26 to go in the game.

“I was very pleased,” Pincince said after the game. “We only have eight returning players, and our whole backfield is brand new. We have a lot of young players and I’m picky with them (because) I want them to understand that we care about them, we want them to get better, and they need to be accountable for what we’ve covered.”

“This was the same (score) we had last year against Ponaganset,” he continued. “Last year, we lost on a penalty kick. Today, we lost on a corner kick, but I thought as a team, we actually played better this year with a new nucleus.”

Two afternoons later, Mount suffered another 1-0 loss, this time in Pawtucket to St. Raphael Academy, and on Monday afternoon, the Mounties suffered a 4-2 loss at home to Toll Gate that saw freshman Nina Finn and Green score MSC’s goals.

One of the Mounties’ new players is junior goalkeeper Gabby Hisoire, who stopped 12 of the 14 shots she faced in last week’s games, and two new starters who are back from last season’s team are juniors Jenna Bushika, who was injured last year, and Sophie Staelen.

Overall, Pincince’s message and goal is to take one game at a time. He wants his players to continue to improve and get stronger as the season goes on, just like they did last year. He said they will see where the season takes them and how quickly some players can grow in their system.

Despite having almost a whole new team, in what Pincince calls not a rebuilding year, but a “reloading” one, the Mounties still have a target on their back in the division as the defending champs. He told his players that even though some may not have played on the team last year, they still represent Mount.

Other teams to watch out for, Pincince said, include Pilgrim, which lost to the Mounties in last season’s title match, Moses Brown, and Exeter/West Greenwich.

“There are so many (good teams in D-II),” said Pincince, whose team will visit West Warwick today at 4 p.m. “On any given day, a team is going to rise to the occasion. We’re just going to move forward one game at a time.”

Mount Saint Charles freshman Chrissy Schoumaker, left, and Ponaganset junior Emma Papa, #4, chase down a loose ball in front of Mount senior Ava Sangiovanni, #7, during last week’s Division II opener at the Mounties’ field. Ponaganset posted a 1-0 victory.
Mount Saint Charles sophomore Sara Mercier, right, steals the ball from Ponaganset's Emma Papa during last week’s game.