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PROVIDENCEâ€”There was no improbable upset when the South Kingstown girls soccer team faced La Salle Friday night in the Division I quarterfinals.
After knocking of the mighty Rams last postseason in a shootout La Salle got its revenge, holding off the Rebels for a 3-0 win.
Friday night South was in a hole almost from the moment it stepped on the field as 57 seconds into the game La Salleâ€™s Haley Puglia got a foot on a bouncing ball in the box to put it past SK goalkeeper Bridget Montle.
â€śThat hurts early but we played fine in the first half,â€ť SK coach Toby Gibbons said. â€śWeâ€™ve had struggles hitting seams and hitting the ball and Belle [Pesante] got hurt early, which didnâ€™t help, but theyâ€™re a good team. I mean they didnâ€™t lose a game all season.â€ť
Once the Rams got ahead on the scoreboard, they sunk back defensively and rarely rushed more than three or four players on attack as to preserve their lead.
Montle â€“ who had no chance on the first goal â€“ had a strong opening half for the Rebels as the two teams ultimately went into intermission with the game still at 1-0.
Out of the break the Rebels continued to struggle to mount any sort of offensive and in the 50th minute the Rams put in what would be the finishing blow.
Mia Sardella fired a line drive shot from about 25 yards that curled just inside the left post to more or less secure the La Salleâ€™s trip to the semifinals.
Sensing their season was coming to an end the Rebels pushed on, never giving up even though the Rams had yet to concede a goal this fall.
â€śTheyâ€™ve got a lot of heart and we pushed forward,â€ť Gibbons said. â€śWe had some good opportunities. We had some girls playing with some fire, they type of things you want to do when your backs are against the wall â€“ similar to what Coventry did last week against us â€“ but La Salle, once again, they met the match.â€ť
South got its two best chances in the final 30 minutes of the game, the first coming with 24 minutes to play off a free kick from 30 yards out.
The initial hit was off the mark â€“ skidding along the ground â€“ but junior Rachel Murphy managed to scramble to it and put one on net. The shot, however, was right at La Salle keeper Amber Fortune, who easily made the save.
Sophomore Sarah Demoranville put a strong shot on net with five minutes to play but Fortune was there to turn it away with a diving save.
â€śWe had a couple good chances ,â€ť Gibbons said, â€śand thatâ€™s why Amberâ€™s the best goalie in the state.â€ť
Less than 90 seconds later the Rams put South away for good when Veronica Hardy scored to clinch La Salleâ€™s trip to the semifinals.
Saturdayâ€™s match marked the final one in the careers for seniors Brooke Livingston, Zoe Sorlien, Brighid Donnelly, Elecia Cardarelli, Lily McCaughey, Courtney Corvese, Chapin Graham and Ella DeMarco.
Cardarelli, McCaughey and DeMarco in particular leave the program having been major contributors in the Rebelsâ€™ success over the past two seasons.
â€śI know Elecia has had four great years for South Kingstown High School and hopefully she has four more somewhere else in college. Her and the other two captains (McCaughey and DeMarco) did a great job this year in terms of leadership,â€ť Gibbons said. â€śThen you have just a lot of great kids.â€ť
That being said, the Rebels will return a ton of talent next season and should once again be a team to reckon with.