BURRILLVILLE – Late Friday night, Burrillville/Ponaganset Co-op exhibited masterful play while strolling to a 7-1 upset victory over Mount St. Charles at Adelard Arena, and the girls celebrated the unusual – and somewhat historic – decision with moxie.
Perhaps 17 hours later, head coach Marc Brissette conducted a serious meeting with his troops prior to their Division I/Emma League contest against the South County Co-op Storm inside Levy Arena.
“I told them that this team was really good, and what happened (Friday) night meant nothing if we went out and lost,” he explained. “I said, ‘If we want to contend for the league title, we’ve got to come out full of energy and ready to battle.’”
The Broncos did – and didn’t. They allowed the Storm (representing Narragansett and North and South Kingstown highs) to break a 1-1 tie with three goals in the final stanza and eventually sustained a maddening 4-2 loss on Saturday afternoon.
Junior defenseman Caitlin McGuirl manufactured two goals and an assist, while classmate Nichole Carvalho added a tally and a feed for the visitors, who improved to 4-0-2 in league action.
Unlike its performance against the Mount, where junior assistant captain and forward Emily Cardon posted two goals and a pair of assists, she finished with one tally. A lot of that had to do with the superb defensive play of McGuirl, freshman Jillian Gonsalves and junior Madelyn Ward.
As a result, Burrillville/Ponaganset suffered its first loss of the season and now is 3-1 in Emma League play.
“We beat Mount once a couple of years ago, and obviously the girls were thrilled; it’s always nice to beat one of the Catholic schools because they can draw from so many areas,” Brissette noted. “The way we played here, I thought it was one of those proverbial hangovers. We started really flat, and we warned them about that beforehand. They had a lot of speed, and – for some reason – we didn’t use ours (Saturday).”
The Storm needed only 16 seconds to penetrate the cage behind freshman goalkeep Abigail Bassett, that courtesy of junior forward Brooke McGreen’s conversion of a Carvalho pass.
Less than six minutes later, officials whistled BP sophomore Anna Nardelli for checking, giving South County its first power-play opportunity. The Broncos, however, utilized outstanding defense from junior assistant captain Tiara Bianco, classmate Maggie Reid and freshman Mara Carlow to clear the puck and kill the penalty.
With 1:29 left in the initial period, SC sophomore Erica Edwards was issued a tripping penalty, though BP did nothing with that chance. It nevertheless looked as if it had scored when Cardon muscled her way through two defenders up the middle and unleashed a wrister at senior captain and goalie Emily Edwards.
The latter, however, stonewalled the try with a sprawling save with 7:49 remaining in the second. Less than five minutes later, with 2:57 on the clock, the Broncos got the goal they were looking for when Cardon somehow knocked the puck through a scrum in front of the cage.
Brissette’s bunch gained a girl advantage when Ward received a penalty for checking at the 2:03 mark. That opportunity fell by the wayside when Reid took a tripping call at 56.3. With only 11.3 left, Carvalho fired an attempt at Bassett, but she corralled it with a stellar dive.
Just as it had done in the first, the Broncos yielded South County another go-ahead tally just 20 ticks into the third. McGuirl apparently tipped in a shot from senior teammate Julia Evans, and the Storm didn’t lose the lead. McGuirl notched an unassisted goal with 4:18 left in regulation to give SC a 3-1 cushion, but Reid rallied her club with a hard wrister from deep inside the left circle to slice it to 3-2.
That tally came on passes from Carlow and classmate Kathleen Takita.
Exactly 68 seconds remained on the scoreboard when Brissette chose to pull Bassett for the extra skater, and it produced a shot on goal, though Carvalho iced it with an empty-netter with 37.3 left.
“I thought Abby played great in goal,” Brissette offered later. “It wasn’t her fault; she played well. It just seemed we were a stride behind. They beat us to all the loose pucks, and you can’t allow that to happen if you want to win.”