BURRILLVILLE —Burrillville junior winger Justin Crawford spent the first three games of the Division III soccer season tormenting opponents by taking on defenders from the touchline and scoring goals in bunches.

Monday afternoon against a young and talented Davies Tech squad, Crawford showed a different dimension of his game. Because of injuries, Burrillville coach Martyn Hollands was forced to play Crawford as a number nine – the target player up top – but the goals continued to flow.

Crawford set up the opening goal in the seventh minute and then the junior scored twice in the span of three minutes to send the Broncos into halftime with a comfortable advantage. The Broncos ran out of gas in the second half and the Patriots responded with an impressive final 40 minutes, but the home side secured a 3-1 victory at Gledhill Field.

“We couldn’t play him where he normally plays, so we had to make him our target man and he just did great,” Hollands said. “When the kids can click, the movement and playing through the lines is nice to watch. The goal we have is just for the kids to perform at their best every game.”

Davies Tech (0-2-1 Division III) is coming off a 2-2 tie to an improving Blackstone Valley Prep squad. It wasn’t that long ago – 2016, to be exact – when the Patriots were dominating Division III with the likes of current assistant coach Jonathan Soares on the field. Now, coach Orlando Monteiro is attempting to blend some veterans with obvious talent with a crop of talented newcomers.

Senior Noah Vargas impressed in the second half and scored a superb solo goal with his left foot in the 48th minute. Freshman Luke Ducharme worked hard on the wing as the Patriots continue to try and implement a style that will make them successful in the future.

“We have five seniors and then a bunch of young kids, so I’m excited about the possibility of building a good team if we can get more freshmen coming up next year who can play,” Monteiro said.

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“We’re trying to instill a different philosophy which starts with passing the ball on the ground and keeping possession. I’m not a big fan of kicking the ball and running. The goals will come.”

Burrillville (4-0 Division III) had no trouble with its first three opponents and came into Monday’s game fresh off a 6-0 victory over Woonsocket on Saturday thanks to a hat trick from Crawford. Tougher tests await the Broncos later in the season from the likes of undefeated North Providence and Narragansett, but Hollands is pleased with the way his team is progressing.

The Broncos grabbed the lead Monday in the seventh minute when Crawford had his close-range shot saved, but junior Tyler Franklin was smart enough to follow the play and scored a tap-in goal. Burrillville doubled its lead in the 13th minute when Crawford scored on a breakaway after a superb through ball from junior Rylan Larue.

Crawford scored his third goal in the 15th minute and he had chances later in the half to finish off his hat trick. The Broncos looked like they were going to blow away the Patriots, but playing three games in four days caught up to the home side in the second half.

“We just lost our shape as the game went along,” Hollands said. “What we discussed at halftime we didn’t go out and do. We started fine, but I expected them to get a little leggy and tired and they did because we played so many games. The opposition were quick and they were physical and transitioned pretty well.”

The Patriots were the better team for the first 25 minutes of the second half and scored in the 48th minute when Vargas slid a left-footed shot past senior goalie Brady Linfield, who made four saves in the victory. The Patriots look to build on their second-half effort next Monday when Exeter-West Greenwich comes to Lincoln.

Follow Branden Mello on Twitter @Branden_Mello

Follow Branden Mello on Twitter @Branden_Mello

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