East Providence midfielder Yuliandra Henriquez (left) is a helpless bystander as she watches North Smithfield senior Keila Strick (4) score the first goal of Thursday afternoonâ€™s Division II game. Strick had a goal in each half to help the Northmen net a 2-0 victory. PHOTO BY ERNEST A. BROWN
NORTH SMITHFIELD â€” It was a simple question, and North Smithfield High head coach Jeremy Sherer responded in kind.
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When asked if he was satisfied with his Northmenâ€™s 2-0 Division II victory over East Providence early Thursday evening, he stated merely, â€śNo.â€ť
He claimed he had good reason.
â€śYou know, weâ€™ve had two really good wins this year; the first one against Pilgrim, and the second against Tiverton,â€ť he elaborated. â€śTheyâ€™re both very strong teams, and when we play those types of teams, we do very well. In big games, we step it up a couple of notches.
â€śWith weaker teams, we get tentative,â€ť Sherer added. â€śLast week, we played Burrillville here, and it ended in a 5-5 tie. That happened because we were called for 21 offsides (infractions). You know what I did the next day? I had the girls run 21 100-yard sprints. They need to correct their mistakes, and â€“ in that game â€“ they didnâ€™t.â€ť
Still, a win is a win, and Sherer gladly accepted it.
â€śI thought we moved the ball very well, and we defended well, too,â€ť he said. â€śWe controlled the movement through the midfield, and we pretty much dominated the whole game. In the final third of the field, though, we had some problems. We didnâ€™t have enough combination plays; that is, not enough give-and-go plays to get isolation on the goalkeeper.â€ť
One thing was a given: Senior midfielder and tri-captain Keila Strick did. She finished with two goals as Shererâ€™s bunch upped its record to 8-4-2 overall and 7-2-2 in league action.
The Townies, who only mustered two shots on freshman keeper Samantha Kent, fell to 1-9 overall and in D-II.
â€śI thought our defense played super; I was really pleased with the effort they gave,â€ť noted East Providence mentor Angelo Pizzi. â€śWe didnâ€™t have one-third of our team available to play due to injuries and extenuating circumstances, but the girls battled. They executed our game plan pretty well.
â€śI have to give my compliments tip North Smithfield,â€ť he continued. â€śTheir coach and their players were ready. They played very well start to finish, and they have some talented girls on that team.â€ť
When Sherer said he believed his Northmen dominated, he wasnâ€™t kidding. In the first half alone, they had 13 shots on net, but only one tally to show for it.
In fact, they had registered eight before the contest had reached the 15-minute mark.
Just 10:30 into the tilt, sophomore Michaela Brodeur drilled a 20-yard low liner at Towniesâ€™ senior goalie Tamrra Conway, but she made a phenomenal diving save. And, only 2:20 later, senior tri-captain Pam Denomme threatened with a 15-yard rip, but Conway cradled the ball.
North Smithfield finally penetrated the net at the 20:38 mark; thatâ€™s when senior striker Alexis Schmidt issued a pass to Strick, stationed in the right corner of the penalty box. She calmly drove her shot inside the right post to give her contingent a 1-0 advantage.
With 8:05 remaining before the break, on the Northmenâ€™s sixth and final corner kick of the half, senior Jaime LaFazia rocketed a line drive toward the net. Denomme knocked it down, wheeled and fired, but Conway blocked it.
The same combination nearly made it a two-goal cushion with about 1:20 left. LaFazia rifled an 18-yard direct kick at mid-box, and Denomme one-timed at Conway, though she made a stellar sprawling save.
The Townies didnâ€™t record its first shot on net until the 15:18 mark of the final stanza, but Kent booted the chance away. A mere 14:12 later, sophomore midfielder Melissa Juhr took a left corner kick and sent in the direction of Strick, who battled through a scrum in front and knocked it past Conway for the 2-0 lead.
It seemed like the Northmen might score a third with 7:50 left when Brodeur fed Juhr with a deep, left-side pass. Juhr spun and fired from point-blank range, but Conway snatched it.
All told, North Smithfield racked up 23 shots on goal, but Conway (21 saves) played superbly. To be fair, she had plenty of help from junior Taressa Jones and senior Amy DeCastro, both sweepers, not to mention senior center defender Katie Husanander and junior midfielder Jillian Amaral.
â€śOur defense played fantastic,â€ť Pizzi said. â€śThis was one of our best team efforts all season; we just came up short.â€ť
Offered Sherer: â€śWeâ€™re a very young team, as we have six starters who are either freshmen or sophomores. Weâ€™re trying to play a possession game. I mean, I donâ€™t want us to play kickball. We worked the ball very well (Thursday), but we just didnâ€™t finish. Weâ€™ll be working on that, for sure.â€ť