PAWTUCKET – As St. Raphael Academy discovered on Thursday night, there’s a reason why Burrillville has surrendered a division-low seven goals this season.
Defense is the name of the Broncos’ game, which was made plenty clear as the Saints were grounded, 4-0, at the McKinnon-Alves Complex. The shutout is No. 11 for Burrillville, which hasn’t allowed a goal in seven straight games dating back to Sept. 23.
The loss was SRA’s first of the season. The team’s 12-1-1 record is good for second place in Division III with Burrillville right behind at 12-1-0. The Saints have two games left in the regular season while the Broncos have two contests remaining. Both teams will face first-place Narragansett next week.
Given the tall order the Broncos were going up against in facing a SRA squad that was leading all of Division III with 89 goals coming in, Burrillville delivered the type of stymieing performance that could prove most frustrating for opponents come playoff time.
The Saints registered a season-low seven shots as scoring threats Kytresa and Kyanna Ivey-Jones encountered rough sailing in their quest to navigate through and around the Broncos’ speedy backline.
“The key was to keep someone on them (the Ivey-Jones sisters) the whole time,” explained Burrillville head coach Amy Cardone. “They are fast but we used our speed to recover when they did get by us, which worked for us. We had a couple of girls that I told to specifically watch No. 2 (Kytresa Ivey-Jones) and keep pressure on her the entire game.”
Kyanna Ivey-Jones owned one of the Saints’ better scoring chances, as the sophomore broke free from the Burrillville defenders early in the second half. She wound up taking a bad angle as her shot clanked off the left post. The rush came moments after Sarah Barry buried an attempt to put the Broncos up 3-0.
“Their defense is fast,” was the compliment St. Raphael head coach Ashley Femino paid. “They pull up real fast and catch you off-sides. They caught us off-sides between 7-10 times.”
Taylor Ross and Laura Antoniello each scored in the opening half as the Broncos sat on a 2-0 lead at halftime. Isis VanPutten wrapped up the scoring 10 minutes into the second half when the Burrillville freshman sliced her way through the SRA defense before firing a shot to make it a four-goal game.
Still, the story of the night was Burrillville’s take-no-prisoners defense and its ability to corral St. Raphael.
“It definitely takes the pressure off of you in terms of not being undefeated heading into the playoffs,” Femino said. “I told the girls to forget about this one and get ready for (Monday’s game at Narragansett).”
In terms of how the playoffs may shake down, Cardone offered, “It’s going to be interesting because with the teams at the top, anyone can win on any given day. It’s really going to come down to which team comes to play on that particular day and who wants it more.