LINCOLN — Head coach Brenda Sylvester really couldn't recall what she told her Lincoln High troops prior to facing Bay View in both teams' Division I-North season finale on Thursday afternoon.
“I guess I just told them to go out and play as well as they know they can,” stated Sylvester, who attended the contest despite being on maternity leave, giving assistant Lea Miguel the opportunity to serve as interim chief. “I just said, 'Go out and play your game.'”
The Lions had several motivations entering the tilt: First, they hoped to avenge a two-goal loss to the Bengals at their home site early on; and second, having already qualified for the postseason, they wanted to close their campaign at .500.
Thanks to what Sylvester called one of her squad's finest outings of the season, Lincoln secured that last desire, notching three goals in the first 17 minutes and sailing to a 3-1 thumping of Bay View at Tiberii Field.
Senior co-captain Jessica Kelley compiled a goal and an assist, while sophomore Marissa Isabella and senior Monica Lessa followed with tallies of their own. In the process, the Lions improved to 8-8 in league action, and will take on either Moses Brown or East Greenwich in a state D-I quarterfinal at the opponent's site on Monday, though at a time still to be determined.
“This was just a great game on our part,” Sylvester grinned afterward. “This was our 'Senior Day' (where all soon-to-be graduates are honored for their last-ever game at home), and it was a perfect way to end it on our home field.
“We really wanted to finish at .500, and we did, because we already had sealed a playoff spot,” she added. “I saw a great overall team effort. The girls hustled, they were aggressive, the passing was right on and the communication spot on. There were no negatives in this win. All put forth a superb effort. This is a great way to enter the playoffs.”
Despite the immediate offensive spark, Sylvester admitted being supremely pleased by the hustle of her defense, namely senior co-captain Kellyn Dyer, classmate Daphne Robson, junior Sarah Kennedy and freshman Margaux Bassette.
They continuously marked Bay View's top forwards and knocked passes to them away, but also exhibited ball-handling prowess in the midfield.
“Kellyn is just a great all-around athlete; she can penetrate any defense any time she wants with her stick work,” Sylvester stated. “She wants the ball all the time because she's so aggressive in both zones. Her ability to carry the ball from one half to the other, not to mention score or find the open girl, is fantastic.
“Sarah had a terrific game, too,” she added. “She had been out for most of the season with some injuries, but she came back just before I left, and stepped it up right away. She's made a huge difference. As for Daphne, she's just had a solid, great year.”
Bay View fell to 10-6 in I-North to gain the fifth seed for the tournament, and will battle fourth-ranked Lincoln School at their place on Monday as well.
“We knew they were going to come out fired up,” mentioned Bay View head coach Sasha Sickel. “We knew it would be their 'Senior Day,' and that they wanted to go into the tournament on a positive note. They really got after it in the first half, and we were back on our heels. You have to give Lincoln a lot of credit.
“They scored in bunches early on, and we just didn't play well.”
It took the Lions only 62 ticks after the opening touch to snare a 1-0 advantage. That's when Dyer sent a pass to Isabella, and she promptly pushed an up-close try past sophomore keeper Rosie Mahoney.
Officials did award the Bengals their first penalty corner with only 2:15 expired, though nothing came of it. It looked as if the hosts would gain a 2-0 lead at the 8:02 mark after Kelley raced in on a breakaway, but Mahoney stuffed that attempt. She did the same on junior Yvette Armstrong's rip off a penalty corner 14 seconds later.
Less than a minute later, at 10:04, junior Melissa Gianetti delivered a through pass to Kelley, who shoved it underneath Mahoney to claim the 2-0 advantage.
The Lions looked to be in better shape when referees awarded Kelley a penalty shot for an infraction inside the box. Kelley fired a wrister at the cage, but Mahoney's quick flash of her right pad thwarted that attempt.
With 12:58 remaining before intermission, Lessa got into the act, drilling a Kelley feed underneath the netminder for the 3-0 cushion.
Amazingly, the Lincoln defense held the Bay View attack without a shot on goal through the first 30 minutes while the offense earned seven penalty corners to the visitors' one.
That all changed at the start of the final stanza. The Bengals gained its first corner only 70 ticks in, and heralded senior Alexandra Scala poked a superb pass to junior Caroline Orlando stationed in front of Lions' keeper Emma Ferrante, but the latter deflected it away.
Sickel's crew kept pressuring the defense and Ferrante; in fact, with 15:20 left, Scala crushed a 12-yarder from the right at Ferrante, but she responded with a right pad save. And, at the 6:03 mark, senior midfielder Devan Miller seemingly caromed a point-blank try off the right post.
Only 47 seconds after, sophomore forward Julia Plumb ruined the hosts' shutout bid with an unassisted tally at 24:44.
Thanks in part to Bassette, who mustered an outstanding second half, the Lions squelched the surge.
Mahoney gleaned eight saves in all, while Ferrante made three stops.
“This was a totally different game than the one we played against them last time,” Sylvester said. “Then again, we were a totally different team. I could see all the hard work they put in during the season culminating here (Thursday). I just hope it continues on Monday and beyond.”