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NARRAGANSETTâ€“The deck was certainly stacked against the Narragansett girls soccer team as it entered Tuesday afternoonâ€™s contest with a veteran Lincoln squad.
Not only were the wounds of an 8-2 loss to Burrillville fresh but the Mariners also had a littany of injuries to deal with â€“ including one to starting goalkeeper junior Ceili Oâ€™Connnell.
For 40 minutes Narragansett more than held its own as replacement keeper freshman Finnian Duncan and the Mariner defense â€“ particularly Sarah Lubic and Grace Castro â€“ kept the Lions off the board in the first half.
Ultimately Lincolnâ€™s superior depth shone through though as the Lions pulled away for a 3-0 victory.
â€śThe first half was solid,â€ť Narragansett coach Kathryn Mahoney said, â€śand a complete turn-around from our game last week.â€ť
Duncan set the tone, allowing no goals and stopping nine shots on net in the first half including two breakaways, while offensively junior Chelsea Sahgian narrowly missed on a few promising opportunities early on.
â€śI think she did a great job today. I think to come back from a tough loss where they scored eight goals is so hard and sheâ€™s a freshman,â€ť Mahoney said of Duncanâ€™s play.
â€śShe has to fill a position that takes so much experience and so much knowledge and I think sheâ€™s doing a great job with it.
â€śSheâ€™s sticking it out and sheâ€™s not quitting. I think it says a lot about her and sheâ€™s stepping up for us.â€ť
As the second half opened Narragansett continued to struggle offensively â€“ rarely moving into Lincoln territory â€“ while the Lions continued to pressure up the field.
Lincolnâ€™s relentless attacks finally led to a score from 20 feet out into the back, right corner of the net by junior midfielder Elizabeth Young in the 46th minute to break the scoreless tie.
The score remained 1-0 until the Lions finally created some breathing room in the 65th minute when Maya Lafluer footed a laser from outside the box into the top left corner. Lincoln tacked on a third goal late in the half to put the game completely out of reach.
â€śLincolnâ€™s a strong team in our division. Theyâ€™re deep,â€ť Mahoney said. â€śWe had 15 girls and not thatâ€™s an excuse but it wore us down.â€ť
Despite the game more or less being over, Narragansett continued to battle until the final whistle as twice in the final two minutes Sahagian won the ball off goal kicks but was stymied by Lincoln goalie Jianna Iaciofano.
â€ś[In] one week to improve that significantly says a lot about their character,â€ť Mahoney said. â€śTheyâ€™re not just going to lie down.â€ť
Overall the strong defensive battle was not enough to knock off the talented Lincoln squad but Mahoney has a good idea of what her team needs to do to improve moving forward.
â€śI always look at what we have to improve on next game and itâ€™s defiantly locking it in on the offensive end,â€ť Mahoney said. â€śIt was far too easy for Lincolnâ€™s defense to play the ball out and thatâ€™s something we need to improve on.â€ť
Narragansett returned to action Thursday against Johnston (results unavailable at press time) and will next play at East Providence Tuesday at 4 p.m. at Pierce Memorial Field.