COVENTRY — In just two days the Coventry girls soccer team went from a team that could barely muster a shot against Portsmouth to beating one of the contenders for the Division I title.
Just two days after being comprehensively beaten by Portsmouth in a game where the score line didn’t indicate the Patriots’ true domination, the Oakers recorded what could be considered their biggest victory since moving up to Division I in 2008.
Coventry sophomore Katie Beaudoin, thanks to some nifty passing from fellow forward Amanda Egan, opened the scoring late in the first against undefeated North Kingstown. The Skippers scored later in the half, but the Oakers received the game-winner from an unlikely source, junior Natalia Angelone, to earn a 2-1 Division I win.
“I feel like we played more like a team,” Coventry senior captain Sarah Nardella said. “We worked on passing and possession in practice and not always looking to move up the field with long balls. We did a lot of stuff in this game that we worked on in practice.”
“Our simple focus in practice after Tuesday’s game was to stop making 25- to 30-yard passes,” Coventry coach Chris Daigneault said. “In the first half I counted eight of them, but they were mostly by the defense and I told them to try hard to make simple passes. Now, we have that win and some confidence, so we just have to keep working to get it on the other side of the field.”
North Kingstown (4-1 Division I) came into the game as statistically the best team in the state’s toughest division. The Skippers scored 16 goals and senior goalie Morgan McBrier had allowed just two goals in the first four games.
The Skippers, especially talented forward Finley Kincaid, had plenty of good scoring opportunities in the Coventry box, but the Skippers missed the net from close range a few times and Coventry junior goalie Alyssa Derrick (11 saves) stopped a few good shots.
Coventry (3-2 Division I) came into the week trying to earn at least a point against the Patriots and Skippers. It didn’t look like the Oakers would score a single goal – never mind earn a point – after Tuesday’s defeat.
Daigneault said he spent all of Wednesday’s practice changing the way the team builds from the back. Defenders Natalia Gallucci, Ashlee Guilmette and Briana Lukowicz were coached to play the ball to midfielders instead of hoofing it forward to isolated players.
“This week we had two hard teams and I don’t think we’ve every beaten them,” Nardella said. “We definitely have more potential than we had last year. We’ve come a long way.”
As well as the Oakers played, the Skippers still dominated possession and territory. Kincaid and All-State forward Savannah Jones controlled the first 20 minutes of the game and the Skippers had plenty of chances to test Derrick, who has only allowed six goals in five games.
Coventry opened the scoring in the 32nd minute when the hard-working Beaudoin controlled a ball just inside the NK half of the field. Beaudoin and Egan worked a little combination play before the sophomore smashed a shot past McBrier from 12 yards out.
“We have a bunch of fighters and no matter what they’re not going to give up,” Daigneault said. “All I can ask is they give 100 percent effort and they did that today.”
North Kingstown continued to bombard the Oakers and the pressure finally paid off just before halftime when sophomore defender Alicia Southland ghosted by her marker on a corner kick and dispatched the ball into the net.
The Skippers started the second half the way they ended the first, but it was the Oakers who put the ball in the back of the net next. With Nardella, Coventry’s corner taker on the bench, Natalie Gallucci took a corner and Angelone was at the far post to head it past McBrier in the 67th minute.
“That was sweet,” Daigneault said. “Nat usually doesn’t take corner kicks, but she’s worked on them a couple of times in practice. Natalia isn’t always in the game, but that was a great header.”
North Kingstown hit the crossbar in the 73rd minute and had a penalty-kick call in the final seconds turned down to suffer its first loss of the season.