LINCOLN — On paper, there’s not much that separates the top two teams in Division II-North – Lincoln High and Mount St. Charles Academy.
On the field Friday afternoon, the numbers didn’t lie.
The first-place Lions scored all of the offense it would need and then held off a very-determined Mount squad in the second half to post a 3-1 win at Manville Park.
With three games left on its schedule, the victory improved Lincoln’s league record to 14-1-0 and all but secured it the II-North crown. The second-place Mounties dropped to 10-2-0 with still six games remaining.
“The girls are just playing well,” said Lions coach John D’Aloisio. “They all seem to just get along, which makes the season go very smoothly. Game to game, they don’t look to far ahead or dwell on anything behind us.”
Lincoln, the runner-up to last year’s state champion Exeter/West Greenwich, had two goals from freshman Elizabeth Young. Young gave her teammates a 1-0 lead at 17:17. Off a scramble in front of the net, she took advantage of Mount goalie Marie Ryan being out of position to blast a shot to the back of the cage.
Lincoln senior captain Jillian DeSimone scored what proved to be the clincher at 27:24, lofting a beautiful shot from the left side, about 25-yard away.
“It was beautiful,” said MSC coach Marek Wolny. “It was a professional shot right to the back of the net. It was a nice little in-swinger. It went up, down and into the far corner. It was a beautiful shot. I can’t say anything else about it.”
Mount had its chances in the initial half, but Wolny felt his team’s energy was a little down.
“The second half we played very well,” he said. “The first half we came out a little flat. I mean very flat, so we were pretty well rested in other words. The second half I had to change a couple of things around a little bit. They realized they were down, 2-0, and it was do-or-die the last 40 minutes. They played well the second half.”
The second half was indeed a different story for the Mounties, who held the edge in ball possession, continuously out-hustling the Lions to the ball. One prime chance came about seven minutes into the second half when sophomore Dorothea Moniz unleashed a high-rising direct kick from midfield that senior Danielle Deschene headed over to senior Caitlin Shea on the left side from a few yards in front of the net. Shea nearly capitalized on the opportunity but was about a step off from a perfect shot inside the box.
After a few more chances, Shea got Mount within a goal at the 63rd minute when she fired in a shot from the left side - about 10-yards away - that hit the top right post. The Mounties nearly tied the contest five minutes later, but a close-ranger was scooped up by Lincoln goalie Aiden Cullen, one of many impressive saves by the senior.
With four minutes left on the clock, Young scored her second goal of the afternoon, racing down the left sidelines and booting a sizzler from about 25 yards that dropped into the right corner, clear out of the range of Ryan.
While he liked the effort of his Mounties, Wolny felt the slow first half was the difference in the outcome.
“I knew it was going to be a tough game,” he said. “When you go through 40 minutes being flat and trailing by two goals, it’s kind of tough. They didn’t keep their head down. I told them, ‘That’s the way you play ball.’ They didn’t keep their heads down. They went straight out there to play some ball and they did. We gave them a good fight in the second half, but Lincoln did a great job. When you play a good team and fall behind by two goals, it’s tough to get out of it. We tried. We almost did. That’s the way it goes.”
D’Aloisio was prepared for a battle with Mount, a team his squad beat by a slim 2-1 score on Sept. 10. He admitted he wasn’t at ease with a 2-0 advantage at the half.
“(In the second half), they were more aggressive to the ball and just kept pounding it into dangerous areas,” said D’Aloisio, whose squad’s lone loss was a 3-0 shutout to unbeaten II-South leader Exeter/West Greenwich on Sept. 19. “It takes time and it takes energy to dig it out and bring it back up the field.”
“You are never comfortable with a team like that,” he continued. “The girls know that Mount’s a tough team.”