LINCOLN – Despite having a significant edge in the categories of shots on goal and corner kicks, Lincoln High suffered a disappointing 1-0 loss to Narragansett in a pivotal Division II clash at Chet Nichols Memorial Field on Monday afternoon.
The two squads had entered the contest tied for second in the division with 20 points, and the Lions managed to produce seven more shots and a stunning 10 more corners than the Mariners. Still, senior Evan Carvalho's tally just 5:59 into the final stanza sealed Lincoln's fate.
With the triumph, Narragansett improved to 9-1-4, good for 22 points, while the Lions fell to 9-3-2 and remained at 20.
“They got the goal they needed, and I thought they also played great defense,” stated matter-of-fact Lincoln head coach John D'Aloisio after the tilt. “Sometimes you just can't put the ball in the net. We were tied for second, but now we're in third. It was all understood that this was a really big game, but you're not going to play it any differently, whether you're in second, third or fourth.
“I thought we played well, but we just couldn't finish,” he added. “Sometimes that happens. We dominated the tail end of the second half, and almost all of the first. We had 12 shots on net, they had five. We had 13 corner kicks, they had three, but the game requires goals to win. They picked one up and we didn't. It's that simple.”
Actually, the Lions had mustered eight shots on senior keeper Zack McKanna in the opening session alone, not to mention nine corners (as opposed to the visitors' three and one, respectively).
In the span of 25 seconds in that half, Lincoln had two corner kicks, but the Mariners knocked away each. It looked as if the Lions may get on the board first when sophomore midfielder David Jessey juked a defender at the 18 and ripped a try at McKanna, but the latter snared it.
With 3:45 eclipsed in the final half, Narragansett senior tri-captain Corbin Maynard drilled a right-side corner kick at the box, but junior Ryan Labrie booted the shot away.
The Lions weren't as lucky 2:14 later. That's when fellow senior tri-captain Sajad Hosseini tried to head home a crossing pass, but it deflected off a Lincoln defender. Carvalho immediately juked another defender and, with goalie Jack Bacon out of the play, he poked it inside the right post.
That happened to be the first shot on goal in the second half.
“Evan just kind of tipped the ball into the net,” noted Mariners' mentor Ryan Kanaczet. “We tell the kids all the time, 'It's not a goal until it hits the back of the net, so make sure you do.' I was glad to see that go in.
“We had to re-adjust on some things at halftime,” he continued. “We weren't winning the 50-50 balls, and we weren't spacing right on the defensive marks, so I asked them to clean things up. We tried to close those gaps in the second half, and I also asked them to better control their touches.
“We hadn't seen them before (Monday), but I knew their No. 10 (senior forward John DiMasso) was one of their leading goal scorers, and that No. 11 (junior midfielder Alex D'Alosio) was a real playmaker. I also knew that (senior Devin Lambert) is a tough kid to play when he's on offense, but we did a pretty good job of shutting them down.
“We felt, if we did that, we could get out of here with a win, and that's just what happened. We'll take it. John has a nice team over there.”
About four minutes after Carvalho's tally, Narragansett manufactured another stellar opportunity. Junior midfielder Ethan Wright delivered a 30-yard direct kick from the right side to Maynard, who gained control and fired at sophomore goalie Jack Bacon, but that traveled a few feet over the crossbar. And, with 19:14 remaining in regulation, Jessey did the same from three yards farther out.
Playing with more urgency, the Lions began to take control in the Mariners' zone.
Lincoln junior Brian Hasegawa tried to poke in an outside feed from point-blank range with 12 minutes left, but McKanna stood his ground and grabbed it. About five minutes after, D'Alosio rifled a right corner kick at junior forward Dylan Mendes, and he tried to rope it home, but McKanna (12 saves) snagged that as well.
In the 38th minute, officials whistled D'Alosio for hitting the keeper in the box and issued him a yellow card. With the Lions playing 10-on-11, it seemed as if Narragansett would add an insurance goal; Senior tri-captain Tod Wright unleashed a solid throw-in at junior Robert Pratt in front, though – with Bacon (four saves) out of the net – Labrie slid across the goal line and drove the ball away.
“We controlled the midfield in the second half, and that was key,” Kanaczet said. “I liked the way we were looking for shots in the second half, instead of shooting out of desperation like we did in the first. I think Tod is one of the better midfielders in the division, and he played great on both sides of midfield. He solidified the middle.
“Hey, a win is a win,” he added. “I'm more than satisfied with the effort.”
Lincoln will close their season at Pilgrim at 3:30 p.m., Friday, while Narragansett will host Middletown at the same time Thursday. Both will try to finish their respective campaigns on a high note before the state playoffs begin.