CRANSTON — Head coach Jeremy Sherer didn’t have to dig deep to find the reason why his North Smithfield team lost to two-time defending champion Exeter/West Greenwich in their Division II semifinal-round affair on Saturday afternoon at Cranston Stadium.
“I thought for the most part, we got muscled off the ball too much,” the second-year coach said after his Northmen suffered a 5-1 loss to the unbeaten Scarlet Knights. “They’re a strong team, they’re physical, and they did a nice job of beating us to the ball. It really came down to the 50-50s. They won them and we didn’t.”
The top-seeded Scarlet Knights, who are 15-0-1 and have outscored their opposition this season by a 77-19 margin, received a hat trick in the first half from 20-goal scorer Allisa Georgio to take a 3-1 lead at the break, and they outshot the fifth-seeded Northmen by a 15-7 margin.
Georgio’s first two goals came 4:06 and 27:40 into the game, but the Northmen tied the score in the final minutes of the half when sophomore Michaela Brodeur scored off a pass from classmate Samantha Paiva.
That gave N.S. a bit of momentum, but it didn’t last long. Less than a minute later, Giorgio again made it a two-goal game by using some fancy footwork to net her third goal.
“At 2-1, I thought it was a game,” added Sherer, “but when we allowed her to dribble through all five of us, that just took the wind out of our sails at 3-1. That killed us.”
Emily LePage and Lane West added the winners’ second-half goal, and Kara Shaw, the Scarlet Knights’ other 20-goal scorer, was still good for a pair of assists.
For the Northmen, the defeat closes the book on an excellent 8-5-3 season, which not only was their sixth straight winning season, but also produced their first trip to the semifinals since 2008, when they competed in the Division III ranks.
“I thought we had a very successful season,” remarked Sherer. “Our goal at the beginning of the season was to make it to the semifinals and we did that. This is my second year here and the girls have responded. We’re a very small school, so for us to be here is a big success for us.”