Finally! Saints claim D-III title

Finally! Saints claim D-III title

The St. Raphael Academy boys’ soccer team and some of their fans show off the Division III championship plaque after the Saints defeated Toll Gate High, 1-0, on Sunday night at Cranston Stadium. The title was the program’s first in its 17-year history. (Breeze photos by Kayla Panu)
Munguia’s heroics, ‘own goal’ lift SRA boys past Toll Gate for soccer program’s first title

CRANSTON – For the third straight year, the St. Raphael Academy boys’ soccer team did not score a goal in the Division III championship game.

But that was the only bad news of the night.

After suffering 1-0 defeats in the last two finals, the Saints got the monkey off their backs last Sunday by using an “own goal,” as well as a big game from senior keeper Emiliano Munguia, to produce a 1-0 victory over Toll Gate High at Cranston Stadium and the first championship in the 17-year history of their program.

“I’m delighted,” SRA first-year head coach Miguel Sagastume said. “It’s a point of ecstasy for (the players) right now. This is a good group – a solid group. They did it. It’s for them. They deserved it all year and that’s what they worked hard for.”

In order to return to the title match, the Saints, who won the regular-season title with a 13-1-1 mark, topped Johnston, 3-0, in the quarterfinals on Nov. 2 at the McKinnon-Alves Complex, 3-0, and last Thursday, on a very rainy, cold night at Tucker Field, knocked out Scituate, 4-1, in the semis.

Throughout the postseason, as well as the season, the Saints relied on Munguia, and in Sunday’s game, he had eight saves for the shutout and turned in some of his best stops after injuring his hand late in the first half.

“It feels amazing,” Munguia said. “This is our third time here. My senior year, we had to do something special. And we did it for everyone, (especially) all the seniors that graduated before us.”

Three minutes into the game, the Saints were at a disadvantage, as a starting captain, Dylan Polion, needed help off the field after suffering a knee injury. He did not return to the game.

“It’s sad for him because he’s worked his entire life for this game, but I’m glad these guys pulled it out for him,” Sagastume said. “It speaks highly of us.”

The Saints were slow to start, especially after losing Polion. It took almost 12 minutes before Toll Gate keeper Jayden Pereira actually got his hands on the ball.

But 13 minutes into the game, Jeffrey Codman took the ball down the field and passed it to Spencer Hsu, who put a shot on Pereira. The ball bounced around, with SRA’s Devan Kipyego in the area, and when a Toll Gate player tried to head the ball away, he misdirected it the wrong way and sent it past Pereira for the Saints’ goal with 26:40 left in the first half.

While the Saints only took three more shots the rest of the way, Munguia and the defense, meanwhile, made the Saints’ one-goal lead stand, especially in the game’s final four minutes.

On a free kick, Papa Ndoye put a good shot on net that was headed away by the Saints. Dylan Barlow also tried a shot as Munguia came out of the net, but the Saints’ defense was there to kick away the next shot.

With 1:33 remaining, the Titans took another kick, this time taken by Pereira from the 50-yard line, and 24 seconds later, they were awarded a penalty kick on a foul in the box. Barlow took the shot, but Munguia blocked it with a dive to his left.

“I went to go see (Toll Gate’s) semifinal game (against Exeter/West Greenwich),” Munguia noted. “They had a similar play. The person who took it was Dylan and he took (the PK) down the same way, so I knew he was going to go down to the right and I just did what I had to do.”

“(Munguia) came out big for us, but all these boys are a major part of this,” Sagastume said. “For the seniors – we have eight here – it’s great for them.”

In the Saints’ win over Scituate, four different players scored goals, Edgardo Cardona, Kipyego, Polion, and Codman, while Spencer King, Codman, and Cardona provided the scoring in SRA’s victory over Johnston. Munguia also stopped seven shots in each game.

St. Raphael Academy senior Spencer Hsu, left, gets ready to fire a shot past Toll Gate senior Matthew Roache, center, during the opening half. The shot ended up going off a Toll Gate player and past goalkeeper Jayden Pereira, right, for an ‘own goal’ that turned out to be the game’s only scoring.
SRA’s Antoine Serena Jr., #5, joyously climbs the fence as he and his teammates celebrate their championship with their fans.