CUMBERLAND – Approximately 10 months ago, on a cold night at East Greenwich High’s Carcieri Field, Cumberland High played its collective heart out before suffering a 2-1 triple-overtime semifinal loss to eventual Division II state champion Burrillville.
The two Division II-North rivals went at it again in a tilt at Tucker Field on sun-splashed Friday afternoon, and Clippers’ head coach Stefanie Capone-Bello decided beforehand to remind her upperclassmen of that defeat.
“I just told the kids, ‘We owe them one,’” she said. “I also said, ‘If we go out and play our game, if we do what we need to do as a team, then there’s no reason we can’t go out and win it.”
And that’s just what the Clippers achieved, courtesy of a satisfying 3-1 victory over the potent Broncos.
Sophomore Karin Dion, who saw little if any action last November, provided a phenomenal effort, scoring twice and assisting on another goal to lift the Clippers back to .500 (2-2-0) at this early stage of the campaign.
Not surprisingly, junior Kasey Desrosiers – the heroine for Burrillville in that semifinal, and in its dramatic 1-0 win over Smithfield in the final – notched the lone tally for the visitors. The Broncos fell to 1-1-1 in league action; in fact, it was their first loss since late in the 2011 season (as they sealed a 17-0-1 record in 2012 after edging the Sentinels).
Cumberland exhibited superb passing and defense, areas their coach felt were inconsistent in their 1-0 season-opening win over Classical last week.
“I was really pleased with the way we passed the ball,” Capone-Bello said after the verdict. “A lot of times, we struggle with that. I told them I thought we had played dinky field hockey over the first two games. We just weren’t looking where we were passing it.
“Here, we were looking for open spaces, finding the open player, and the midfielders and the forwards were getting to it,” she added. “That’s why we looked good offensively … Yes, this is a really good win and a really good start, but the season is long.”
The Broncos came into the season losing their amazingly-talented netminder, Alex Leclaire, to graduation, and coach Susan Burgess has been relying on freshman Ally Simpson to fill that void. Simpson has played rather well in her first two varsity tilts as her club entered with a 1-0-1 mark.
It seemed Burrillville had recorded the first goal about 11 minutes into the opening stanza after Desrosiers, stationed by the left post, tried to drive it past sophomore keeper Michaela Simanski, but the latter made a solid right pad save.
About six minutes later, Cumberland junior Nicole Rochefort tested Simpson with a long drive from the far right, but it never rolled through. When senior Julie Fougere pounced on the ball and tried to poke it home, Simpson’s right pad knocked it away.
After two consecutive Clipper penalty corners, neither of which worked well, Dion smashed a feed from the left side toward Fugere, and the latter shoveled it through a scrum in front of the cage to give the hosts a 1-0 advantage with 9:49 remaining in the half.
Burrillville did have a pair of penalty corners in the final four minutes, but could do nothing with them.
It didn’t take long for Burgess’ bunch to muster the equalizer. Just 4:06 into the second session, sophomore Gabrielle Belisle sent a terrific, right-to-left pass to Desrosiers, who promptly planted it inside the left post to knot it at 1-1.
The Clippers produced five penalty corners in the initial 11-plus minutes alone of the last half, but did nothing with them – until – with 10:51 left in regulation, junior all-around talent Lindsay Sheehan drilled a long pass into Dion, and she swept it past Simpson at point-blank range to give Cumberland the 2-1 edge.
There was only 7:23 remaining when Burgess chose to call a timeout to help her kids regroup and muster some offense. At the same time, while Capone-Bello huddled her squad, Fougere exclaimed, “I don’t want overtime! Do you hear me?!”
The Broncos did receive its first penalty corner of the half with about six minutes left, but didn’t manage a try, and – with 5:03 remaining – Rochefort delivered a long feed in from the right to Dion, who slammed it past Simpson for the clincher.
“She was just in the right place at the right time,” Capone-Bello offered. “She sees the ball so well, and has great hand-eye coordination. I can’t say enough about her. She played well (Friday).”
Burrillville tried to recreate some of its offense from earlier in the half, but didn’t. The reason: Outstanding defensive plays from Sheehan and sophomores Reily Clarey and Cassidy Simanski.
Actually, senior sweeper Kaitlyn Carr also delivered a supreme defensive performance throughout.
“This is no rematch,” Burgess explained after the defeat. “It’s a new year. My goalie made a big mistake allowing that third goal to go in. The ball was moving, and instead of controlling it first, she tried to clear it without control.”
She also mentioned that freshman Marissa Ramos had competed with a sore hamstring, and senior Mikayla Fernandes was battling an intestinal problem while classmate Brianna Durand had a semblance of the flu.
“We weren’t at full strength,” she said. “I think we were fighting a few things … but this is good because this team needs to learn how to lose. This is our first loss in our last 22 games, but we’re taking it as a positive. We have five girls who have never played the game before this year. We’re somewhat young; we’re low in numbers, but we will rebound.”
Simpson closed with three saves, while Michaela Simanski registered five.
“We had a really solid first half, and that got us going,” Capone-Bello mentioned. “We were communicating well and seeing the ball well. With the passing, we knew where and to whom it was going, so I was very pleased with that. We had some lapses in the second half, but the defense picked it up a few notches.”
“Still, we’re just looking forward. We can’t spend much time (reveling) in this. Like I said, it’s a long season.”
Burrillville 0 – 1 -- 2
Cumberland 1 – 2 -- 3
First half: CUMB – Julie Fugere (Karin Dion) 20:11.
Second half: BURR – Kasey Desrosiers (Samantha Moriarty) 4:06; CUMB – Dion (Lindsay Sheehan) 19:09; CUMB – Dion (Nicole Rochefort) 24:57.
Shots on goal: Burrillville 6, Cumberland 6. Goalie saves: Ally Simpson (BURR) 3, Michaela Simanski (CUMB) 5.