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NORTH KINGSTOWNâ€”With the 2013 girls high school soccer regular season winding into the final third of the schedule, the October 10th Division I border-rival grudge match between East Greenwich and North Kingstown may be one that foreshadows a possible playoff matchup, as one team continues to roll and the other looks to recreate itself after a key injury.
The Avengers took the match Thursday night at Perry Athletic Complex 1-0, remaining unbeaten in D-I. While thereâ€™s really no question about EGâ€™s spot in the post season, NK seemed at times like they could compete with the formidable cluster of teams among the top.
â€śTheyâ€™re trying to find themselves, theyâ€™ve got a couple more games to do that before the playoffs come around,â€ť NK coach Randy Jones said. â€śOne nil against LaSalle and one nil against EG, two of the premier teams in the league, weâ€™re where we are, we just need to find out who we are and how weâ€™re going to get this done.â€ť
The Skippers came into the game just over .500 with a 5-4 record, having lost a few in a row but also having proven to be a stubborn opponent to many of the top teams in D-I, previously losing to La Salle, Smithfield and Coventry by a single goal each.
North was playing its third game without senior captain Savannah Jones, the teamâ€™s top goal scorer, who was injured in the 1-0 loss to Smithfield on Oct. 1. They have since played Cumberland and LaSalle and havenâ€™t scored a goal.
â€śThey are understanding now that they need to be more of a team. That one outlet isnâ€™t there. That impact player isnâ€™t there,â€ť Randy Jones said. â€śThereâ€™s a lot of talent on this team â€“ a ton â€“ they just have to figure out now, as they are this week, how to work it.
â€ś...The ball movement was great this week, the placement was good, the step-up, the energy, the 50-50 balls, so now they just have to find the net and I think they will be successful.â€ť
The Avengers scored the lone goal in the ninth minute against a solid breeze. Midfielder Sarah Beaulieu cut a pass to forward Giovanna Mandarini, who snuck the goal past goalie Morgan McBrier for her team-leading sixth goal of the year.
Despite the early goal, the Skippers possessed the ball inside EGâ€™s half for lengthy spans in the first half but the opportunities never materialized into many shots with the Avengers back four eventually gobbling up the better of their offensive chances.
Defender Kayla Pelletier had her teamâ€™s closest scoring chances with a few penalty kicks, one particular in the 21st minute nearly bounced through.
â€śWe played way, way too much in the air tonight,â€ť added Jones. â€śIn these games sometimes the ball has the opportunity too lift too much, defensively for both squads they struggled kicking into the wind.â€ť
As for the Avengers â€“ who have been very efficient in converting their scoring chances â€“ they know they canâ€™t rest on their laurels of beating the Skippers during the regular season.â€ť
â€śWeâ€™re taking advantages of the one or two good opportunities we have,â€ť EG coach Scott Douglas said. â€śMorgan [McBrier] is a good keeper, she made two very nice saves which could have changed it a little.â€ť
â€ś...North Kingstown is another one of those teams that are right there, they can cause problems for anybody. NK will be in the playoff picture and theyâ€™re going to upset a few teams.â€ť
Caroline Preston, EGâ€™s goalie added six saves, gathering up the few balls that snuck past the Avenger defense. McBrier added four saves of her own.
The Avengers (9-0-2 D-I) returned to action Tuesday and maintained their spot atop the divisionâ€™s standings thanks to a 0-0 tie with Bay View (8-1-2 D-I) coupled with La Salleâ€™s (9-0-2 D-II) scoreless draw with Prout.