BURRILLVILLE -- Monday served as Senior Day for Burrillville High, and though it only had two honorees from a R.I. Division II championship team that graduated at least a half-dozen key players, senior co-captains Mikayla Fernandes and Brianna Durand had multiple reasons to celebrate.
The first is so easy to explain: Thanks to junior standout Kasey Desrosiers’ unassisted tally only 53 ticks into overtime, the Broncos earned a thrilling 1-0 Division II-North triumph over rival Cumberland before a small but vociferous crowd of perhaps 60.
The next: Burrillville, which had dropped a 1-0 loss to the Clippers at Tucker Field back on Sept. 20, avenged that defeat and gained some momentum entering the D-II post-season tourney, slated to begin next Monday.
On the tilt-clinching goal, Desrosiers took a deflection at midfield to the “house.” On the breakaway, and as she closed in on Cumberland sophomore goalkeeper Michaela Simanski, she juked a pair of defenders and roped an approximate three-yard try inside the left post to lift the Broncos to 7-3-2 in league action.
“I just ran in toward the goalie, and she came toward me; I kept moving forward, and that’s when I flicked it past her,” Desrosiers explained with a smile after head coach Susan Burgess at honored her two captains with bouquets of roses. “This win is pretty huge for us. We needed it badly to get some confidence for the playoffs.”
The Clippers closed their campaign at 5-6-2, but will play their first quarterfinal contest on Monday, stated mentor Stefanie Capone-Bello.
“This is what makes Kasey so dangerous; when she’s alone with the ball, she not only can carry it and dodge defenders, but she also never gives up on it,” Burgess noted. “With her, it’s 110 percent every day, whether it’s practice or a game.”
After that loss to Cumberland just about a month ago, Capone-Bello had admitted she felt her squad had avenged a disgruntling one-goal semifinal defeat to the Broncos last November. Burgess, on the other hand, never considered it a rematch of that game.
“Now this is what I call a rematch,” Burgess said. “We played the first time at their place, and we had totally different teams. It was a brand new season. They played rather well and we played horribly, but this is a rematch because we’ve got the same players facing off against each other for the second time. I’m just glad we won it on Senior Day.
“I love my seniors, and I want to make sure they get some ink,” she added, referring to this story. “They’ve played great for me all season, and in their careers here.”
The Clippers had to play without the service of senior tri-captain and forward Julie Fougere for most of the game. With 5:47 remaining before the break, a Bronco fired a high shot, one that apparently hit Fougere in the head. She immediately fell in a heap, and Capone-Bello and Burgess both raced to her aid.
After about three minutes, Fougere climbed to her feet and walked off the field smiling as the crowd offered a loud applause.
Burrillville had outshot its foe, 6-3, in the opening stanza, but achieved nothing with those attempts. Still, Cumberland closed the half with four penalty corners, as opposed to three for the hosts.
Burgess’ bunch controlled play through the first 10 minutes or so of the final session, but the Clippers changed the momentum. At the 12:45 mark, and on the Clippers’ second penalty corner of the half, senior tri-captain Megan Martin delivered a fine left-side pass to junior Lindsay Sheehan, who promptly drilled a shot from in front at freshman Ally Simpson.
The netminder, though, made an outstanding right pad save to thwart the chance. Only 2:25 later, junior Kristina Iavarone whacked a long through pass to a streaking Desrosiers, who took a couple of stick dribbles and ripped it at sophomore keeper Michaela Simanski, though she drive it away from harm.
Midway through the half, Burrillville mustered a pair of penalty corners, but did nothing with either.
It appeared Sheehan would give her Clippers their first lead of the tilt with 7:10 remaining in regulation after she gained possession inside the left half of the circle and crushed an attempt at Michaela Simanski. The later, however, made a superb kickout to squelch the effort.
With exactly 100 seconds left, Desrosiers poked a terrific feed into Fernandes in the crease, but a Clipper defender deflected it away.
The foes still deadlocked at 0-0, the two officials called for the OT session, and Desrosiers needed little time to end it.
“A one-on-one with the goalie is always tough because the girl with the ball, most of the time, has the advantage,” Capone-Bello stated afterward. “She (Desrosiers) just scored on a good shot … The first time we played them, (senior tri-captain) Ari Coutu was out with a broken ankle, but she’s back, and I thought she did a solid job defensively. In fact, I thought this was one of our stronger defensive games.”
She indicated Sheehan, Cassidy Simanski, Coutu and senior Kaitlyn Carr all provided stellar efforts on defense, and offered Carr the greatest laurel, saying she had one of her best tilts of the campaign. Then again, so did Michaela Simanski, who stopped six shots.
BHS freshman Ally Simpson settled for five saves, but a few could be defined as stunning.
“We had our share of opportunities, but Burrillville played good defense as well; we always have a hard time with them,” she added. “Our midfielders play to defensively in our offensive zone, and it ends up being our three forwards against their seven defenders as well as the keeper. Instead of being more aggressive, we’re sitting back on our heels. We need to start finishing (our shots) more.”
Burgess mentioned she believed Fernandes, in her final home contest, played superb defense, not to mention freshman Marissa Ramos. She was one of
“Marissa usually fluctuates between offense and defense, but because Brianna Durand had a broken toe, she wasn’t at full strength, so we needed (Ramos) to play more defense,” she stated. “She was terrific. She’s only a freshman, so she has a lot of potential.”