Sentinels, Chieftains win soccer openers

Sentinels, Chieftains win soccer openers

Ponaganset senior tri-captain Matthew Greco, center, gets tangled up with Scituate senior captain Jack Campbell as he brings the ball past midfield during last Saturday morning’s Division III opener on the Chieftains’ campus. The Chieftains scored twice in the opening half to defeat the Spartans, 2-0. (Breeze photos by Eric Benevides)
Ponaganset holds off Smithfield in Div. II girls’ tennis matchup

SMITHFIELD – The wait is over.

For the boys’ and girls’ soccer teams from Smithfield, Scituate, and Ponaganset, the start of their high school seasons finally arrived last weekend, and everyone, from the players and coaches to the fans, couldn’t have been happier.

The game of the week may have been the first one on the schedule, the Smithfield boys’ team’s Division II matchup against Pilgrim last Friday night at the Boyle Athletic Complex.

Tied at 1-1 at halftime, the Sentinels scored twice in the second half to defeat the Patriots, 3-1. The victory was the first in three years for the Sentinels, who had spent the past two years in D-I and did not win a game.

Junior midfielder Matt Swain, junior forward Evan Theroux, and sophomore midfielder Adam Benzina supplied the scoring, and sophomore goalkeeper Alex Nardolillo stopped 11 of the 12 shots he faced.

Less than 24 hours later, Ponaganset hosted Scituate in a Division III encounter, and the Chieftains were able to grab a 2-0 victory by scoring twice in the opening half, as senior co-captain Matt Greco and sophomore Addison Carty scored the goals off assists from senior Trent Bulger and junior Brandon Faria.

The Chieftains’ senior tri-captains, Josh Bellem, Mark Holden, and Greco, stepped up for the Chieftains in this victory, noted head coach Mike Ferns.

Bellem “was a solid defensive force as sweeper,” Ferns added. “His confidence, skill, and voice bring up the level of play from his teammates. Mark Holden’s unselfish play at midfield allowed many offensive opportunities to develop. And aside from his insurance goal, Matt Greco’s strength and speed up top are weapons his teammates are always looking to capitalize on.”

Both goalkeepers, Ponaganset sophomore Alessio Herrera and Scituate junior Euan Wilkie, also finished the game with nine saves.

Unfortunately, the news wasn’t as good on the girls’ side, as all three teams lost their openers, and the toughest loss of the bunch may have been Scituate’s loss to Lincoln last Saturday morning, which was a matchup that featured two teams who had played in Division I last season, but were sent down to D-II in the RIIL’s offseason realignment.

Scituate took a 2-0 lead, but the Lions managed to score four goals in the final 27 minutes and come away with a 4-2 victory. Senior Abby Pagnozzi’s unassisted goal midway through the first half and senior Rachel Oster’s unassisted score 12 minutes into the second half provided the Spartans’ scoring.

Later that day, Smithfield dropped its D-I opener at home to Pilgrim, 5-1, with senior midfielder Marissa Ruzzano scoring the Sentinels’ goal, and on Sunday afternoon, Ponaganset suffered a 4-0 loss on the road to North Smithfield in their D-II opener.

The RIIL’s girls’ tennis season also continued last Saturday afternoon with a Division II showdown featuring D-II newcomer Smithfield and two-time D-II finalist Ponaganset at the Sentinels’ courts, and this match was worth the price of admission.

The Chieftains, thanks to three-set victories from senior Amelia Campanella in first singles and sophomore Anneliese Curry in fourth singles were able to claim a 4-3 victory that evened their record at 1-1.

Sophomore Katie Tancrede also netted a 6-1, 7-6 (4) victory at third singles for the Chieftains, who also picked up a straight-set victory from their third doubles team of sophomores Alexandria Pezza and Kaleigh Rainville.

The Sentinels, who were coming off a 7-0 win over North Smithfield in their opener, received straight-set victories from senior Amara Devine in second doubles, the first doubles team of seniors Victoria Richard and Elena Caliri, and the second doubles team of junior Madison Bettencourt and freshman Ashley Gagner.

In Division III action, Scituate improved to 2-0 by grabbing a 6-1 win over West Warwick at the Wizards’ courts. Senior Rachel Fians netted a 6-1, 6-0 victory in first singles to lead the Spartans, who also received a marathon 4-6, 7-6 (3), 6-4 win from senior Lily Pelletier in fourth singles.

Scituate, which is back in D-III after spending the past two years in D-II, also picked up straight-set victories from Maggie Collins in second singles, who took a 7-6 (4), 7-5 thriller; Talia St. Angelo in third singles, the first doubles team of Milana Belanger and Kailey St. Pierre, and the third doubles team of Mia Piccollo and Isabella Sousa.

Ponaganset junior Spencer Realejo, #28, heads the ball over Scituate freshman Jake Gurjian.
Scituate goalkeeper Euan Wilkie stopped nine shots in his team’s Division III opener against Ponaganset last Saturday morning, but the host Chieftains scored twice in the first half and held on for a 2-0 victory.