CRANSTON – It was a good start to the season for the Narragansett girls soccer team when they opened their 2013 schedule Friday at Cranston Stadium with a 5-3 win over Cranston East.
In the end, however, it may have been the lesson learned throughout the course of those 80 minutes, more so than victory, that proves to be the best building block for the Mariners to start on.
It was an interesting road to victory for Narragansett as the team was sluggish early on, getting dominated by the Bolts though the first half. Narragansett found their legs in the second, however, rallying for the win.
“‘Tale of Two Cities’ there,” said Narragansett coach Kathryn Mahoney. “It was pretty drastic, the turnaround from first half to second half, which – thank, God – because it wasn’t looking pretty. I think the girls understood that. I was pretty blunt with them, but I think that’s what they needed because they were far better than what they were showcasing on the field.
“…It was soft soccer. A style of soccer I never want to see again.”
The game opened even, but a sprawling save on a bid by Narragansett forward Chelsea Sahagian five minutes into the game sparked the Bolts, who took over the game from that point. East then seemed to get even better when they took the lead in the 15th minute.
While Cranston East got better, Narragansett got worse, unable to generate much offensive flow and looking apprehensive around the ball on defense. East scored another in the latter half of the first, taking a 2-0 lead to halftime.
“It was lifeless,” said Mahoney. “I think the message was we were better than what we were doing. One of the most disappointing things is when they have a lack of energy and motivation. That’s something they can control.
“Teams in the past, that’s been what’s been so inspirational. We’ve had teams that just go hard all the time and I think, especially the upperclassmen, recognize this is not the kind of soccer we play. I think they were able to recognize that and completely turn it around. It goes to show how poorly they were playing in the first half.”
The second half, however, was as good as the first half was bad, as the Mariners took the field by storm. Like in the first, Sahagian had another bid on net five minutes into the half but this time she finished, chipping the ball in as she was knocked to the ground to get Narragansett on the board.
East responded quickly, scoring three minutes later in the 48th minute to make it 3-1. The tally, however, did not derail Narragansett’s momentum, as they kept getting better as the game went on. Cat Tierney scored off a free kick in the 58th minute and Sahagian tied it up in the 60th, scoring once again while being knocked to the ground.
“She’s clearly one of the top players in the state. She had phenomenal goals, probably one of the prettiest goals I’ve ever seen, but she turned it around as well,” Mahoney said. “She wasn’t playing her game in the first half and I think she shut down a little bit, which is understandable, but as a whole, once you have that boost of energy it sparks everyone. It sparked her, then you see a player like Chelsea working as hard as she was, it’s hard not to support that. I think she kind of spearheaded the turnaround.”
The junior completed her hat trick in the 66th minute with a header off a corner kick from Tierney to give the Mariners their first lead of the season at 4-3.
East started to find a little of the offense they had in the first half late in the second, but could not break through again. Narragansett snuffed any rally attempt when Jaimee Barber iced the game just before injury time, bringing the score to its 5-3 final.
“They all know, all the girls that have had me, understand I’m going to set high expectations, but I do that because I know what they are capable of,” Mahoney said. “I’m very fortunate to have a group of players that are motivated by that, rather than turning around and complaining and making excuses. I’m very proud of what they did in the second half.
“I like to use [the first half] as a learned lesson. If we don’t learn from it, it might happen again. You can’t take any breaks in this and, unfortunately, we don’t have a deep bench, so every single player that steps on the field or even if they’re on the field when they’re completely tired, you have to go hard the entire 80 minutes.”
The joy of Friday’s win was short lived, however, as Narragansett fell victim to a slow start once again Monday as Burrillville piled on six goals in the first half en route to an 8-2 final.
The sting of Monday’s loss will also linger, with more than a week until the Mariners’ next contest. Narragansett does not return to the pitch until next Tuesday, Sept. 17, with a 4 p.m. start at home against Lincoln.