WAKEFIELD — There wasn’t much separating the undefeated West Warwick and Prout boys soccer teams entering Tuesday’s Division III showdown.
After 80 minutes, there still wasn’t much separation.
The Crusaders, thanks to a third-minute goal from senior forward Kevin Brew opened the scoring, but the Wizards received goals on either side of halftime from junior forwards Cameron Price and Chris Peixoto to lift West Warwick to an impressive 2-1 road win.
“We beat a pretty good team,” Peixoto said. “They’re a very good team. We won because we played as a team and communicated. This shows us that we can do it. We can do it.”
“Sometimes this is the good one to get out of the way,” Prout coach Tim Ryan said of his team’s first loss of the season. “Anybody going undefeated in this league’s tough. Someone’s going to knock somebody off because there’s a lot of parity this year. Based on today with two of the top teams going at it, I don’t think either of us stood out.”
West Warwick (6-0 Division III) has now won more games this season than the squad won in the whole of last season. The biggest sign of the Wizards’ improvement is how they played against the Crusaders.
Last year, Prout went to West Warwick and embarrassed the Wizards in a 4-0 win. Tuesday, Prout had more possession, but the Crusaders couldn’t match the finishing of Peixoto and Price.
“This is nice for the kids because they were really prepared for this game,” West Warwick coach Isa Price said. “We still have a long way to go. We can’t really be happy and relax.”
Prout (5-1 Division III) jumped out to an early lead after Brew’s tally, but the Cursaders simply couldn’t finish over the last 77 minutes of the match. West Warwick sophomore goalie Matt Grenier made eight saves, but Prout had many more chances.
The Crusaders will have a chance to work on their finishing when winless Masters visits Saturday afternoon.
“We definitely have the goal scorers. Our mental attendance and when we want to turn it on is a little tricky,” Ryan said. “I think we definitely can do it. We just don’t know the right time.”
The right time Tuesday was in the third minute when Brew blasted a shot to Grenier’s far post. The sophomore lunged for the ball, but the shot was perfectly placed into the corner.
It was the second time the Wizards fell behind early in a game. The Wizards came back from an early 2-0 deficit on the road against Warwick Vets to earn a 3-2 win.
“Both times we’ve been down this season they’ve focused,” Price said. “We made a couple of subs which brought some speed on to the field. That was the key.”
One of the mental lapses which frustrated Ryan came in the 28th minute when Price was allowed to flick a ball past Prout goalie Bryan McCormack without a defender around.
The two teams split chances over the next 20 minutes before Peixoto picked up a loose Allen Flyntz pass in midfield and just ran at three defenders. The junior slalomed through the defense before toe-poking a shot past McCormack.
“In the heat of the moment it was either I take the ball to goal or just pass it. I decided to take it and take the risk,” Peixoto said. “I just did anything I could to get it in the back of the net.”
The Wizards played the final 20 minutes of the game with just one forward in the hope of soaking up the Prout pressure. The tactic almost didn’t pay off when freshman Jared Covell blazed a shot from inside the six-yard box off the top of the crossbar.
“I don’t think they were that tough (that tough to break down), I just don’t think we made good decisions,” Ryan said. “We started playing their game, we were playing kick-and-run trying to get over the top or sneak around the back. We had a lot of possession in the middle third, but they parked the bus.”