WOOD RIVER JCT.—If Chariho field hockey coach Johannah LaFountain had one game she’d want back from the start of her team’s season it was a 1-1 draw in the team’s opener at Warwick Veterans.
Tuesday the Chargers edged out a 1-0 victory over the Hurricanes and while it didn’t retroactively add those two points lost earlier this fall, it was nonetheless a critical win in the team’s push for a playoff spot.
“The girls really paid attention to the fact that it was a critical game,” LaFountain said. “We had to win if we wanted to keep our playoff hopes alive. Today was definitely a really big test we had to pass.”
Chariho (4-4-2 Division II-South) made the grade thanks to a goal with 16:38 remaining in the first half as Emily Louzon scored off an assist from Maisie Jones. The play was set up by a strong run from Emily Manning, who initially brought the ball into the attacking zone.
While the win was a necessary one, the Chargers still have plenty of work to do if they hope to secure one of the six spots in the Division II playoffs.
Tuesday’s game was the first for Chariho after a brutal stretch against the much stronger Northern division.
After starting the season 3-0-1 against the South, the Chargers went 0-4 against the North with one-goal losses to Burrillville, Smithfield, Classical and a 2-0 defeat to La Salle.
The loss to the Purple – a 1-0 defeat last Wednesday – was by far the most frustrating of the stretch as the Chargers dominated the game in possession.
“The stats were insane,” LaFountain said of her team’s 16 penalty corners and nine shots on net. “We dominated that game.
“…We were pretty frustrated. We knew that was a game that we should have and could have won. We had a very serious talk after. I told them, ‘the season is on the line and you can’t go into a downward spiral.’”
It was at a similar point last year following a 1-0 loss at Classical that LaFountain had a similar talk with her team but for different reasons.
“Last year I felt like all the talent and experience was there. It was a matter of we should be doing this and I expect you to win,” LaFountain said. “This year they have exceeded my expectations and I’ve put forth the gauntlet.”
Despite a great deal of youth at a number of positions the Chargers have proven they can compete with anybody in the division.
Being ahead of schedule might not be enough to get Chariho into the playoffs though, as it can either play its way in or out of the postseason by the end of next week.
The Chargers currently hold a two-point lead over Rocky Hill (4-6-0 D-II South) and Vets (2-6-3 D-II South) in their subdivision and control their own destiny.
That being said, Chariho could still feasibly win the D-II South regular season title and still end up as the sixth and final seed in the playoffs as all five teams in D-II North currently have better records than the five teams in the South.
The Chargers will need to pick up two points today when they travel to take on winless Toll Gate at 4 p.m. before their final crossover game Saturday at 3 p.m. at Cumberland (5-4-1 D-II North).
Chariho will finish off the regular season next week with a key match Monday at 6 p.m. at home against Rocky Hill, followed by a game Wednesday at 4 p.m. at Cranston East.