WOOD RIVER JCT.—At the beginning of the season Chariho field hockey coach Johannah LaFountain feared her team may be in store for a building year.
“Everybody thought – including myself – we were going to be in for a building year,” LaFountain said. “I’m just so, so proud of them.”
Monday night the Chargers showed if they’re building towards anything, it’s a bright future as they locked up the Division II-South regular season title with a 1-0 victory over Rocky Hill.
The Chargers entered the year with youth inexperience throughout the field but thanks to their maturation – coupled with strong play from its few veterans – Chariho once again will find itself in the Division II playoffs.
“To be completely honest going into [the season] I was a little nervous,” senior Alexis Marsella said, “but I had faith in my team and we really pulled through. As a team we worked together to get to where we are today.”
Chariho had a number of chances off penalty corners in the first half but each time couldn’t get that last hit to guide the ball into the goals.
HOCKEY, from 1
Then with a little over three minutes to play the Chargers finally broke through when junior Amanda Picozzi sent the ball in play off a penalty corner to senior Emily Manning, who in turn fired a shot into the box.
Maisie Jones finally got the redirect her team has looking for to beat Rocky Hill’s goalkeeper for the 1-0 Charger lead.
One goal proved to be enough as Chariho dominated possession for the better part of the game as the Mariners had just one promising scoring opportunity midway through the second half.
Rocky Hill drew back-to-back penalty corners and got a few shots through to goal but could not find the back of the box.
From there it was all Chargers as they dominated play in the midfield en route to wrapping up the league title.
As it has been all season, the midfield was once again a major strength for Chariho as Marsella, Picozzi and Manning dominated play.
“The stick work of especially Amanda and Alexis this year has just been phenomenal,” LaFountain said. “These girls worked at the end of last season – worked and worked and worked in club and in clinics just to get those stick skills – and the two of them have come such a long way even from last year.
“Then between Emily Manning’s hit, Alexis and Amanda they just send ball after ball after ball [into the box]. They really are the core of the team.”
Now that the Chargers are in the postseason all that is left to be determined is who they will play, which they had a direct hand in determining.
Chariho wrapped up the regular season Wednesday as the No. 4 seed heading into the postseason at Cranston East (results unavailable at press time) with the Thunderbolt still fighting to get into the playoffs.
The Chargers will host a first-round playoff game no matter what but who they play could be one of three teams.
A Cranston East win coupled with a Classical loss to Burrillville would be enough to get the ’Bolt into the postseason and would set up a first-round game between Cranston East and Chariho.
If the Thunderbolt and Purple both lose Classical would get in and the Chargers would face Cumberland, while a Classical win would sent the Purple south to the Wood River Junction.