NORTH SMITHFIELD — When it gets to the end of the league season and the seedings are essentially assured for the playoff-bound teams, it's all about momentum for the postseason.
That's what neighboring Division II-North rivals North Smithfield and host Lincoln were playing for on Tuesday night at the Northmen's Athletic Field.
After 80 minutes of well-played soccer by both squads, the end result was a more-than-fair scoreless tie.
With one game remaining, the II-North titlist Lions are now 15-1-1 and are the No. 2 seed for the playoffs. The Northmen put an end to a two-game skid and finish up their league slate at 8-7-3 and a possible seven seed.
“It was a very good game,” said N.S. coach Jeremy Sherer. “It was a great way to have our last regular season game. It was phenomenal.”
“I thought they won the first half and we won the second half and the result was neither team could grab a goal,” said Lincoln coach John D'Aloisio.
Lincoln outshot North Smithfield by a substantial 19-4 margin in the game, but it was hardly one-sided. The Northmen never made it easy for the Lions throughout the contest.
Lincoln's only other non-win was a 3-0 setback to unbeaten II-South leader Exeter/West Greenwich on Sept. 19.
“I think our back line did a great job of getting them to play in front of us and not letting them get behind us,” Sherer said. “We did a great job holding possession and working the ball out comfortably. We used width. I thought our midfielders did a phenomenal job of disrupting their ability to play up the middle on us and we just used the flanks. I don't think either team had the better chances.”
After an exciting first half, the two teams repeated that play in the second half with their equally, bend-don't-break attitudes. Lion freshman Liz Young had two, back-to-back close-range shots that were stopped by NS keeper Sidra Ethier with about 31 minutes left.
Lincoln had a few more opportunities during the next 10 minutes. But the Northmen had the biggest chance with about 3:30 left on the clock when senior midfielder Amanda Guilmette and senior striker Ashley Fontaine came charging near the cage with Guilmette slipping the ball over to Fontaine at the right corner. Fontaine blasted a shot outside the box that Lion goalie Aiden Cullen made a great stop, catching the ball near her chest.
“It's tough to second guess your striker,” Sherer said. “She's got the ball at her feet. She chose to stop the ball and tried to cut in 20-yards out rather than try to get around the corner. If she had beat her around the corner and had Ashley running with her she might have been able to slip it across the box.”
'The condition were a little slick,” D'Aloisio said. “The defender slipped. It was kind of a broken play and the keeper made a big save.”
Lincoln wraps up its league campaign on Wednesday night when it plays host to Mount Hope at Manville Park. North Smithfield will now rest for the upcoming playoffs where it has the potential to face Lincoln again in the quarterfinals on Saturday afternoon on the Lions' home digs.