LINCOLN – If you missed the first 30 seconds of Tuesday night’s Division II girls’ soccer clash between Lincoln and Warwick Vets, you missed a lot.
Electing to establish tempo on the game’s initial touch, the Lions quickly penetrated deep into the Hurricanes’ zone before one of their scoring stars took over. Senior Hailee Jarry succeeded in turning the corner and getting past a Warwick Vets defender before rifling a shot from the top of the 18-yard box that goalie Katelen Pick had little chance of stopping.
Jarry’s mighty poke proved to be the difference as Lincoln went on to post a 1-0 victory on what was “Senior Night” at Chet Nichols Field. The Lions will carry and 11-0-2 league mark into Thursday’s regular-season finale at Westerly. A win over the Bulldogs would enable head coach Chris Allen and his players to officially clinch the division title and the No. 1 seed in the upcoming Division II playoffs.
“It definitely keeps them motivated,” said Allen when asked about having something significant to play for come Thursday. “We really don’t talk seeds or rankings at this point. We just look at each game one at a time. We’ve got one game left and whatever happens after that, we’ll move forward. But we’ve played a good season so far.”
Allen agreed when it was suggested that his Lions are more than capable of playing in the type of white-knuckle affair that played out against the Hurricanes, who fall to 9-4. Tuesday saw Lincoln post its eighth shutout against league foes.
“It’s not just our defense. Our offense is more than capable of sustaining pressure, which allows our defense to work from the back,” the Lincoln mentor explained. “In a couple of games that have been close, our offense has stepped up and been able to keep the pressure on the opponent.”
A chess match ensued after Jarry’s goal as both teams continued to trade opportunities and shots. The two goalies ended up making a combined 32 saves with 20 belonging to Pick while Lincoln’s Lauren Hervieux made 12 stops.
“We’ve got a nice spread offense, which has helped us to be as successful as we are,” Allen pointed out. “(Warwick Vets) played a nice, physical game in the back and made our offense have to work for it. We got some shots in the end, but that’s how the ball bounces.”
Lincoln’s defense was put to the test multiple times inside the final 10 minutes. A corner kick by Warwick’s Sloan Kinney with 9:30 remaining bounced around the cage for a couple of anxious moments before Lincoln junior Delaney Maxell batted the ball out of harm’s way and toward midfield.
Roughly a minute later, the Hurricanes’ Meredith Walsh got off a shot that wobbled around before Hervieux stepped to the forefront and corralled the live ball. Lincoln junior Faithe Hernandez also deserves credit for the way she marked the opponent’s top threats.
“Faithe is a very strong defender. So is (sophomore) Lauren Christo,” said Allen. “A lot of heads-up play back there. They didn’t caught sleeping and were able to distribute the ball out.”