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NORTH KINGSTOWN â€“ When North plays South, the intensity always takes a step up and with the recent struggles of late for the girls soccer teams of North and South Kingstown, it was the kind of game both needed when they met Wednesday night at NKâ€™s Perry Athletic Complex, from which North came away with a 1-0 win.
The chances were few as the teams played to a 0-0 tie through the first half, but those that came were quality and it seemed as though it was only a matter of time before Northâ€™s top-ranked offense broke through. Skipper forward Savannah Jones, who gave the South defense fits all night, twice played balls in the first half that just sailed over the crossbar.
As the game moved into the second and both teams stepped up the pressure, it became readily apparent the match was going to comedown to which team caught the first break, which almost came in the 64th minute when Katarina Ho riffled a shot from just inside the 18 that hit the crossbar and appeared to drop in the net behind South goalkeeper Bridget Montle. The Rebels defense cleared the ball, however, and it was ruled no goal.
The minutes continued to wane and South got the next golden opportunity in the 72nd minutes when Isabelle Pesante picked the ball off from Ho deep in the NK end, snuck behind the Skippers defense, but goalkeeper Morgan McBrier came out to challenge and made the save.
It was not until the 87th minute either team was able to break through. Montle was able to make the initial stop off a cross from Finley Kincaid, but the keeper tipped the ball up and it once again dropped in behind her. This time Alicia Southland was there to put it away for the game-winning goal.
For a North Kingstown team that struggled in its last time out, a 2-1 loss to Coventry, it was the perfect time to see their rival on the schedule to help light the fire and get the Skippersâ€™ game back up to snuff.
â€śCoventry was a different animal,â€ť said North coach Randy Jones. â€śLike I told the girls, I have two pages of why we didnâ€™t win, but at the end of the day we didnâ€™t win because we had 28 shots and didnâ€™t put anything in the net.
â€śThey respond to being here. This is a big game for them. Itâ€™s South. This is a big turning point of our season. â€¦For four years theyâ€™ve been playing against South and for them to come out with a 1-nil win I think is going to be a great catapult for them into next week.â€ť
Similarly for the Rebels, though they did not come away with the win, for a team that has been struggling of late, their performance against North will hopefully be a stepping stone as they look to get on track heading into the thick of their 2013 schedule.
â€śWe competed tonight for 80 minutes, which was good,â€ť said South coach Toby Gibbons. â€śâ€¦Weâ€™ve struggled putting the 80 minutes together and tonight we did. Itâ€™s a good step that way. We did a lot of good things weâ€™ve been working on and weâ€™re going to hopefully get better and better at them.
â€śWe had it going. We moved the ball around a little bit. Rachel [Murphy is] still coming back from injury, so her timingâ€™s a little off and weâ€™re just getting used to playing together still, but we were better than we were Monday, which is what we are looking to do this time of year. â€¦Plenty of stuff to work on, but the foundations there.â€ť
Both teams are off for the weekend before each will play a home game early next week. South will return to action on Monday at 6 p.m. against Cumberland, while North gets back on the pitch on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. against Smithfield.