Rebels strike late to dash Clippers’ state title hopes

Rebels strike late to dash Clippers’ state title hopes

Cumberland freshman striker MacKenzie Lavallee, left, and South Kingstown senior midfielder Claire Lidsky lock arms as they battle for the ball during last Saturday afternoon’s state championship match at Cranston Stadium. The Rebels scored a pair of second-half goals to down the Clippers, 2-0. (Breeze photo by Kayla Panu)
Girls’ soccer team’s stellar season ends with 2-0 defeat in championship game

CRANSTON – After allowing a total of just six goals during the regular season and its first two Division I playoff games, the Cumberland High girls’ soccer team picked the wrong time to have one of its worst defensive halves of the season.

Battling South Kingstown – a team they shut out during the regular season – in last Saturday’s state championship game at Cranston Stadium, the Clippers surrendered a pair of second-half goals to the Rebels, who held on for a 2-0 victory that gave them their first D-I title in two decades.

The Rebels, who netted a division-best 53 goals during the regular season, took just five shots on net in this game, but saw Anna Kelly break a scoreless tie with one of them 8:31 into the second half and Sarah Sorlien double S.K.’s lead with 18:03 to play.

“It was a tough game,” Cumberland head coach John Hoxsie said. “We walked into halftime, 0-0, just where we wanted to be, and they got a goal before us. We knew it was going to be tough. They led the league in scoring, and it’s very difficult to shut them down.

“But I’m very proud of these girls. They worked tremendously hard today. It was a great season. We hate to end it this way, but the numbers we put up this year, that’s something to be proud of.”

Both the 2nd-seeded Clippers and 4th-seeded Rebels had their chances to jump on the board in the first half, but neither side could finish their opportunities. Early in the game, Cumberland captain Abby Free took a free kick that went to Madison Durkin in front of the net, but Durkin couldn’t settle the ball and S.K. goalkeeper Faith Hutchins quickly wrapped it up.

“The first (goal) is always the toughest to get,” Hoxsie said. “Once you get one, you feel a little more relaxed out there – a little more looser. We just couldn’t get it.”

At the start of the second half, the Rebels had possession and came out aggressive, and at the 49th minute, they made good on one of their few opportunities. Avery Martin received a pass in front of the net from Sorlien and lofted it to Kelly, who then headed it past Cumberland keeper Juliette Vemmer for her goal.

After that goal, the pressure went up for the Clippers, and no matter what they did, they couldn’t find the back of the net, as they took only six shots in the game, most of them right at Hutchins.

Using the momentum to their advantage, the Rebels scored again a little more than 13 minutes later. As Sorlien was racing toward the net, Vemmer came out to challenge her, and Sorlien was able to get off a shot that sailed past Vemmer and into the lower right corner of the net.

Cumberland had only allowed two goals in a game once this year, in a 2-2 tie with Mount Hope that saw the Huskies score both goals in the second half.

“Both (S.K.’s) goals were good,” Hoxsie admitted. “When you get beat by a good goal, you tip your cap. And they shut us down (defensively). We were going four high the last 15 minutes of the game and just couldn’t break through. Congratulations to that team.”

In order to reach the state title game for their first time since 2015, the Clippers posted 1-0 wins over Barrington in the quarterfinals and North Kingstown in the semifinals. Those two shutouts were the 11th and 12th shutouts of the season for Cumberland.

Free scored on a 20-yard free kick with less than five minutes to play to help Cumberland defeat Barrington, and the win over North Kingstown was decided on penalty kicks, with the Clippers outlasting the Skippers, 3-2. Gianna Sarmento, Paige Vieira, and Free made good on the Clippers’ PKs, and Vemmer clinched the victory with a save in the fourth round.

“We have a lot of girls coming back that start on this team, so our expectation will be high next year,” added Hoxsie. “We still expect to have a good defense and a good goalie. We’re setting a standard for Cumberland High School. Now we have to live up to it.”