LINCOLN –The Lincoln High boys’ soccer team saw its grasp on first place and its bid for an undefeated season slip away last Friday night in their Division II showdown against Cranston West at Ferguson Field.
No thanks to a goal by the visiting Falcons seven minutes into the second half, the Lions suffered a 2-1 loss that dropped their D-II mark to 7-1 and snapped a 21-game regular-season win streak in division play that dates back to Lincoln’s 2019 championship season.
“We caught a good team,” said Lincoln head coach John D’Aloisio, whose team posted a 6-0 record during last fall’s COVID-shortened season and wrapped up their 2019 regular-season schedule with a 6-0-2 record. “I counted a lot of talented players over there. They have a good system and sometimes you just get beat.”
Entering last Friday’s match, the Lions, who graduated just one player from last year’s team that suffered a 1-0 loss to Pilgrim in the quarterfinal round of the playoffs, had outscored their previous seven opponents, 27-5. And during a non-league match on Sept. 25 in Providence against the D-I’s lone unbeaten team, La Salle Academy, the Lions battled the Rams to a scoreless tie.
Despite starting last Friday’s game with possession, the Lions lost the ball and the Falcons immediately took a shot on net and at junior keeper Oskar Caldarone. The Lions didn’t take their first shot until almost the 13th minute, and even though they scored the first goal, they couldn’t keep the lead or follow West’s intensity.
“It wasn’t that good of a start,” D’Aloisio said. “We were dealing with some good pace and some good players from the start, but some of our weaknesses got exposed.”
Sophomore Anthony Parisi scored the Lions’ goal in the 14th minute off a header by senior Thomas Corcoran that came off a free kick from senior Thomas Zhao. But nine minutes later, the Falcons netted the equalizer, as Chris Cavallaro headed in a corner kick, and early in the second half, they took the lead on a goal by Nathan Evans.
“He had a busy night,” D’Aloisio said of his veteran keeper, who finished the night with nine saves. “I thought he played cleanly. I don’t think the goals were necessarily his fault. (They scored on) a pretty good header they had and a nice cross. I thought they were a good team, but we still have a lot to improve on.”
As the second half went on, Corcoran attempted a shot that West’s keeper, Elhadji Ndoye, tipped up and over the net. The Lions then attempted a corner kick, with Zhao going to Corcoran, who found Jackson Danforth, but Danforth’s shot sailed over the net.
With under six minutes to go, the Lions had back-to-back corner kicks, but they couldn’t capitalize on either kick. Zhao also took two free kicks as the game went under two minutes, but they were still to no avail.
“They had talent at all 10 positions,” D’Aloisio said of the Falcons. “I scouted them and knew what to expect, and they got stronger as the game went on.”
D’Aloisio said that it’s never good to lose, but his team will use this game as a midseason adjustment and hopefully learn from it.
“It was a loss to a good team,” he said. “We have things we have to improve on, and we expect to correct what is correctable from this game.”
The Lions’ loss meant that Mount Hope, which entered Tuesday’s action with a 7-0-1 record, took sole possession of first place in the division, and sitting below Lincoln are North Smithfield (6-1) and Cranston West (5-1-1).
The Lions, who were scheduled to visit Hope on Tuesday afternoon, will visit West Warwick on Friday at 4 p.m. Next Tuesday night, the Lions will host Mount Hope, and Lincoln’s showdown with North Smithfield is scheduled for Friday, Oct. 22, at the Northmen’s field.