Tigers take thriller from Quakers in PKs

Tigers take thriller from Quakers in PKs

Tolman junior midfielder David Torres, left, steps in front of Moses Brown senior captain Ryan Johnson and takes control of the ball during Sunday afternoon’s state quarterfinal-round game in Providence. The Tigers defeated the Quakers in penalty kicks to advance to Thursday night’s semifinals against regular-season champion North Kingstown. (Breeze photo by Kayla Panu)
Defending state champs face top-seeded Skippers in Thursday’s boys’ soccer semifinals

PROVIDENCE – The Tolman High boys’ soccer team took another big step toward returning to next week’s state championship match and defending its title on Sunday afternoon by taking a 3-2 quarterfinal-round thriller from Moses Brown that was decided in the eighth round of penalty kicks.

After Tolman keeper Nelton Semedo came out of net to take the Tigers’ eighth shot of the round and fire it past Moses Brown goalie Harry Runci, Semedo returned to his net to face the Quakers’ next shot. But he didn’t have to do anything to stop it because the Quakers’ Logan Smith hit the crossbar with his attempt.

“That’s awesome,” Tolman head coach Dan Silva said about Semedo’s PK goal. “He was a little nervous as well. But Nelton, we’ve been riding him, and he hasn’t lost a game since he’s been playing this season. I was worried because he didn’t want to take (a shot), so if he took it and we lost, he probably wouldn’t have slept for about a year. But I’m just so happy we got the win and he was part of it.”

The defending champions, who are 11-4-2, but have won 10 straight matches since Semedo returned to the lineup after missing the start of the season recovering from meniscus surgery that he had on his knee over the summer, will now turn their attention to Thursday’s semifinals at East Greenwich High.

The Tigers, who are the fifth seed in the Division I playoffs, will face regular-season champion North Kingstown (13-1-2) in the 5:30 p.m. opener of a doubleheader that includes the 7:30 p.m. semifinal-round contest between 2nd-seeded South Kingstown (11-2-3) and 3rd-seeded La Salle (10-3-3).

The state title match is slated for next Sunday at noon at Rhode Island College.

“One game at a time,” said Silva, whose team suffered a 2-1 defeat to N.K. in its season opener. “We beat (North Kingstown) last year in the quarterfinals, and they’re on a mission to get to the finals and win a state title, so it’s going to be really, really difficult. They’re the one seed and we’re the five seed, but anything’s possible.”

Sunday’s victory, which Silva said was “one of the craziest high school soccer games” he’s seen, saw both teams tied at 2-2 at the end of regulation, as well as two five-minute overtime periods, setting up the five-round penalty-kick session, which eventually needed eight rounds because both teams hit six out of their first seven shots.

“That’s about as crazy as it gets,” Silva said. “When you lose that way, it really, really stinks. In my head, I’m just thinking, ‘This is going to be rough either way.’ We practiced (PKs), and we had tons of time to prepare for this game, so we were ready. Now we’ll just move forward. Our whole thing is just one game at a time right now.”

Both teams had their chances in the first half, but it was the Tigers who got on the board. With just under two minutes remaining in the half, Alex Almeida, who was on the outside, got the ball to Roy Barrios, who then found his brother, Juan, and Juan wasted no time in shooting the ball past Runci’s left side.

Midway through the second half, Tolman let in a soft Moses Brown goal to tie things up, but that just fueled the Tigers. Aliou Sissoko took a free kick that was blocked by a wall of players, but the ball bounced to the left side toward Tolman’s Salim Chakhsi, who brought the ball closer and put it on net. Right out in front was Tiago DaCosta, who tucked it past Runci for the go-ahead goal with 4:49 to play.

But the Quakers weren’t done yet. They were able to get the ball down in Tolman’s zone and were awarded a corner kick. The Tigers could not clear it, but the shot was blocked by Semedo. But Will Hassett put the rebound by Semedo for the equalizer with 2:09 to play.

The Tigers had kicked off the postseason last Tuesday, Oct. 29, by netting a 4-1 victory over 12th-seeded Central at Max Read Field. Roy Barrios scored a pair of goals, his team-leading 13th and 14th of the year; David Torres and Edson Vieira added the other goals, and Juan Barrios and Nicolas Torres were each credited with a pair of assists.