N.S. savors seven-game win streak

N.S. savors seven-game win streak

North Smithfield sophomore striker Sadie Crozier, left, has Exeter/West Greenwich freshman midfielder Mia Rosato on her heels as she races down the field with the ball during last Saturday’s Division II game. Crozier scored her 13th and 14th goals of the season in the first half to help lead her team to a 3-0 victory. (Breeze photos by Kayla Panu)
Girls’ soccer team claims 8-1 record, sits in third place in D-II standings

NORTH SMITHFIELD – Ever since it suffered an ugly 5-0 loss to unbeaten Pilgrim in its second game of the Division II season, the North Smithfield High girls’ soccer team has been on a roll, and last Saturday afternoon at the Northmen Athletic Complex, the Northmen improved to 8-1 by defeating Exeter/West Greenwich, 3-0, for their seventh straight victory.

The Northmen, who won a total of seven games last year in posting their 12th winning record in the past 13 seasons, are off to their best start since 2008, and their shutout last weekend was their fifth in their win streak.

“I’m very surprised that we are 8-1,” North Smithfield first-year head coach Nicole Higginbotham admitted. “I couldn’t have planned it any better. I’m super happy for the girls, and I thoroughly love coming to practice and games every day.”

But the Northmen’s seven-game win streak hasn’t been an easy one to put together. Two of N.S.’s victories were 2-1 wins over West Warwick on Sept. 18 and Chariho 10 days later, and in last Saturday’s game, they overcame a slow start to top the Knights.

“I thought we played really rushed,” Higginbotham added. “We were very frantic. Our style is to play to feet, play on the ground and keep possession, and be calm, cool, and collective, and we just didn’t come out that way at all. The first 20 minutes, I was a little on edge, but like I say all the time, we always find a way to win. That’s what’s special about this group. We’ve just been having a great ride so far.”

The Northmen’s captains are senior midfielder Madison Reynolds and junior center back Alyson Paux. Higginbotham said that Reynolds, who is regarded as a leader by example, called her before the season started to give her a rundown of the girls and the team.

“They are both 100 percent about the team,” Higginbotham said. “They care that everyone is positive and together and the team’s morale is good.”

The Northmen’s top two scoring threats this year have been sophomore striker Sadie Crozier and junior midfielder Skylah Sullivan, who have teamed up to score 23 of the team’s 29 goals. Crozier, who scored twice in the first half in last Saturday’s win, has 14 goals and five assists, and Sullivan has nine goals and seven assists.

In net is senior Gianna Capracotta, who ended up with 19 saves last Saturday in what may have been her toughest shutout of the season.

“She’s totally stepped up and her confidence has built all season,” Higginbotham said. “She did not play keeper last year, but we started training with her, and I told her, ‘If you want the spot, it’s yours, but you got to prove it.’ We have another keeper, but unfortunately, she’s injured, so (Capracotta) has really stepped up to the plate.”

“And in every game, she has been improving with her communication with the back line, coming out (of the net), and being more confident,” Higginbotham added. “She’s really taking everything we’re focusing on in practice and putting it in the game, and I’m super proud of her.”

As for the expectations in her first year with the Northmen, Higginbotham said that her main focus is for the girls to grow and learn. She knows that her team won’t win every game, but if they come upon another loss, she hopes they can learn from it and move on.

“It’s not winning – even though I love to win – but it’s about them growing as people and as players, and I just feel like we keep getting better each week,” she said. “Now we have a really good shot at reaching the playoffs.”

Unfortunately for the Northmen, they suffered a few injuries during last Saturday afternoon’s game, and Higginbotham said that she preaches “ice, hydration, and nutrition.” The injuries make her nervous, as the Northmen only have a roster of 17 players and they do not have a junior varsity program this season.

“We’ve still got a long road ahead,” she added. “But I think if we keep staying positive, growing each week, and building on all the tactics, we can keep being successful.”

The Northmen, who entered this week in third place, trailing Pilgrim (10-0) and East Providence (8-1-1), have three games scheduled this week, including their showdown against E.P. on Tuesday and a game against Johnston on Wednesday. On Friday at 4 p.m., they will host the Lincoln School, and next Wednesday night, they will host fourth-place Moses Brown.

North Smithfield junior midfielder Skylah Sullivan has a step on Exeter/West Greenwich senior midfielder Malinda Fry as she brings the ball down the field.
Rushing up the sideline with the ball during last Saturday’s 3-0 victory over Exeter/West Greenwich is North Smithfield sophomore midfielder Jessica Karspeck.
Three players who have shined during the North Smithfield girls’ soccer team’s seven-game win streak are junior co-captain and center back Alyson Paux, #3, senior co-captain and midfielder Madison Reynolds, #10, and senior goalkeeper Gianna Capracotta, right. The Northmen will host the Lincoln School on Friday at 4 p.m. at the Northmen Athletic Complex.