WOONSOCKET – Lincoln High was a state runner-up last year in Division II and lost five players from that squad, but it has a solid nucleus that has come back.
After back-to-back state crowns in Div. IV, Woonsocket was moved up two divisions last fall and struggled with just one victory. This season’s team has some talented players, but is still fairly young.
The expected occurred on Friday when the II-North rivals collided at Barry Field. Senior forward/midfielder Jillian DeSimone and junior forward/midfielder Ashley Moreau each scored a pair of goals in the first half, providing all the scoring for the afternoon in a convincing 4-0 win for the Lions.
Lincoln improved its record to 3-0-0 in the early season, while Woonsocket fell to 0-5-0 The strong start by the Lions, which also includes victories over Mount St. Charles and Ponaganset, doesn’t have head coach John D’Aloisio thinking playoffs quite yet
“It’s too early to tell, but we have very good senior leadership by all five seniors,” said D’Aloisio, whose squad copped II-North last year with a 12-1-5 record. “But again it’s too early to tell until we get four or five more games into the season. I have a couple of real strong players. Jill DeSimone is our strongest right now. She can make an impact on the game really quick.”
DeSimone made her impact quickly against the Villa Novans, scoring the first two goals in the opening 10 minutes of the game. She nailed her first off Woonsocket’s talented keeper Kelsey Boucher (21 saves) at the seven-minute mark. Three minutes later, she scored again.
DeSimone utilized her leg speed on her first tally, scoring on a breakaway. The next came on a close shot from the left side of the cage that went underneath the legs of a crouching Boucher. Moreau would make it a 3-0 game with a header at the 13th minute to all but secure the ‘W’ for the Lions.
“I thought we played well,” D’Aloisio said. “We moved the ball around well.”
To the Villa Novans’ credit, they didn’t let the game get completely out of hand, holding their divisional rivals scoreless in the second half. Woonsocket managed just two shots for the afternoon, but its defense limited the Lions’ few legitimate scoring threats the final 40 minutes.
“They play hard,” said Woonsocket coach Kathleen Fagnant, about her team. “Sometimes we come out flat in the first half. The history of this team, we have always been a second-half team. I don’t know if it’s one, two, three, four goals scored on you and you wake up and say this can’t happen. They really pulled it together. They are a great group of girls. They are still growing and learning. We have a lot of young players. My older, returning varsity members are really great role models. They set a good example and they push everybody.”
The best chance that Lincoln had to score in the second half came about the midway point when freshman Liz Young fired a shot from about 30-yards out on the left side that hit the top of the right crossbar. Woonsocket’s lone shot in the final half came with about seven minutes remaining when senior midfielder Michelle Brayboy broke away from a few Lion defenders on the left side and blasted a shot from about 10 yards that LHS goalie Aiden Cullen caught near her chest.
Lincoln finished the game with 25 shots and has now outscored it opponents by a 9-2 margin. The Lions are led by the senior quintet of defenseman Paige Snyder, midfielder/forward Olivia Maxell, defenseman/midfielder Sarah Oates, Cullen and DeSimone.
“We have good senior leadership, a dedicated group,” D’Aloisio said.
For Woonsocket, its latest setback is its fifth straight shutout loss. The Villa Novans have been out-scored, 18-0, this fall.
Fagnant, who has a handful of experienced players, does envision her squad notching a few more wins then it did last year. But she’s not putting the bar too high, considering her Novans’ inexperience at the higher level.
“We have five or six girls who can keep up with the division and lead the team,” she said. “But then we have others that are getting to that point, but they are not there yet. They are working hard in practice and they push it in the game.”
“If the wins don’t come this year, hopefully the division will smarten up and we’ll move down because you can’t get crushed like this, three or four years in a row,” she continued. “It doesn’t make any sense. If you know anything about this sport and the competition, you would know that we shouldn’t be in this division. We’ll take it and we’ll be happy with what we have and keep playing and it will make us a better team in the end. But hopefully we don’t have to endure this for years and years.”