COVENTRY — In its opening game of the season last week, the Coventry girls soccer team played very well against three-time Division II champion Exeter-West Greenwich but ended up losing by two goals.
The Oakers didn't play nearly as well Monday afternoon against visiting Cumberland, but the Oakers found a way to overcome the Clippers for the second straight season.
After junior goalie Alyssa Derrick made 10 first-half saves to keep the contest scoreless, junior forward Amanda Egan took advantage of a mistake by goalie Katarina Kent early in the second half as the Oakers claimed a 2-0 Division I victory.
"We were probably autopossessed 75-25, but we did play a much better second half," Coventry coach Chris Daigneault said. "We still have to learn how to finish a game in the last 10 minutes when you are winning. We still need to learn how to win because this team is not used to winning."
"We won this game because of our defense," Derrick said after recording her first varsity shutout. "It's very important to win this game because I think it will boost our confidence. We played as a team in the second half, but not the first half."
Coventry (1-1 Division I) knew it was going to have to rely on its defense to make the Division I playoffs and that's exactly what happened Monday. Even though Cumberland boasted two talented forwards in Aimee Malbouf and freshman Jaylynne Thomas, the Oaker defense stood solid.
Senior Sarah Nardella, Natalie Gallucci Ashlee Guilmette and Briana Lukowicz controlled the game even though the ball was in Coventry's end of the field for most of the first half.
Derrick was forced to make a number of saves on shots headed just underneath the crossbar in the opening 20 minutes, but her finest save of the half came in the 35th minute when she dove to her left to stop a point-blank shot from Thomas.
"Every game we play I get more and more confident and I'm getting more and more comfortable," Derrick said.
After soaking up pressure for the entire first half, the Oakers finally put pressure on the road side early in the second half when a long ball was played to the top of the box. Kent came to the top of the box to corral the ball, but it slipped past her and the opportunistic Egan was on hand to score the game’s opening goal.
“The goal had it and then it went through her and I just followed through,” Egan said. “We won by staying positive and keeping our heads in the game.”
Coventry doubled its lead less than 10 minutes later when sophomore forward Katie Beuadoin earned a corner. Nardella played a perfect out-swinging kick to the near post. Before an Oaker could make a play on the ball it was headed into the Clipper net by an unsuspecting defender.