NORTH PROVIDENCE – After totaling 64 goals in its 15 regular-season contests, the North Providence High boys’ soccer team couldn’t light up the scoreboard in last Thursday night’s Division III quarterfinal-round game against the Prout School at the Cougars’ Serio Field.
Of course, the scoreboard wasn’t working, no thanks to the wind storms that recently hit the region, but a big reason why the Cougars went 79-plus minutes without a goal and managed just five shots on net was because of the Crusaders’ outstanding defense.
Junior Will Bussey’s unassisted goal midway through the first half, and senior Cameron Fonseca’s goal in the 65th minute off a pass from sophomore Dante Mills, also allowed the 6th-seeded Crusaders to bus out of town with a 2-1 victory over the 3rd-seeded Cougars and end NP’s fantastic season with a 10-3-3 record.
Veteran NP head coach Chris Swiczewicz was expecting a very close game with the Crusaders, who at 9-4-2, sat just four points behind the Cougars in the standings. Both teams had battled each other to a 1-1 tie on Oct. 15 in North Providence, and Prout came into the contest allowing just seven goals in its last seven games.
“Prout is a really tough opponent, and we knew coming in that this was a team that we were going to have a tough game against,” Swiczewicz said. “We were anticipating a hard fought game, and to Prout’s credit, they came in and played exactly the style we thought they would.”
“Unfortunately, we couldn’t adapt quick enough to kind of break through and play more of our style,” he added, “but give credit to Prout for sticking to their game plan and forcing us out of our style of play.”
The Cougars, who hadn’t been shut out all season, was able to find the back of the goal in the 79th minute on a 35-yard boot by sophomore Sebastian Velez that sailed over the head of senior goalie Brennan Mellor and into the net. But 10 seconds later, to the dismay of the Cougars, the referee whistled the end of the game.
“I’m really proud of the kids, especially the senior class,” added Swiczewicz, who saw his team post double digits in victories for the first time in a decade. “They came in here as freshmen together, and they really gelled as a good unit. More importantly, to see them develop from freshmen into young men and good citizens that are about to embark out into this world has been really meaningful to me as a coach.”