COVENTRY — The Coventry and East Greenwich girls soccer teams walked off the field Thursday afternoon with a share of the points, but the reaction to the preceding 80 minutes couldn’t have been more different.
While the Oakers were pleased to see their recent run of good performances continue against one of the elite programs in the state, the Avengers were none to pleased with their second draw in as many contests.
“We’re starting to pass the ball well and we’re fighting to win,” Coventry coach Chris Daigneault said. “We’re developing a little belief in ourselves. It’s actually fun to coach and watch them play right now. They’re working hard.”
“Unfortunately for us that’s a loss,” East Greenwich coach Scott Douglas said. “This isn’t about La Salle. It’s about the fact that we’re not ready to play a game. We weren’t ready to play against Bay View the other day. They’re a little too complacent right now and when they realize they’re in trouble it’s too late.”
Coventry (4-6-2 Division I) solidified its position in the 12-team playoffs with its second draw in as many games. The Oakers still haven’t won a match in five games, but Daigneault has been pleased with his team’s play against Bay View, South Kingstown and the Avengers.
Sophomore forward Katie Beaudoin became just the third player this season to score against EG, while the defensive combination of Sam Dwyer and Ashlee Guilmette were immense in front of goalie Alyssa Derrick.
“They out possessed us, but they really didn’t have a ton of great chances,” Daigneault said. “It’s really about putting Sam back there and letting her play with Ashlee because those two together are just really good. Sam’s tough as nails and she plays like she’s 6-2.”
East Greenwich (9-0-3 Division I) now has one more tie than La Salle in the race for the top spot in the playoffs. The Avengers still have a stranglehold on one of the four byes into the Division I semifinals along with the Rams, Exeter-West Greenwich and Bay View.
Douglas’s biggest problem as his team starts the stretch run is finding a way to generate more offense. The Avengers have scored just five goals in their last five games and they only have 17 goals in 12 games.
“You see the chances we’re getting, “Douglas said. “It’s not that the girls aren’t playing well or doing well because we dominated that whole second half. We just can’t finish and we’re leaving teams in games. We need to put the ball in the net.”
The Avengers nearly took the lead in just the third minute when they won an indirect free kick and senior captain Sarah Beaulieu blasted the ensuing 20-yard kick off the underside of Derrick’s crossbar. The Oakers managed to clear the loose ball out of their penalty box.
EG continued to pressure Coventry for long stretches of the first half, but the home side was handed a life line midway through the first half when a foul was called on the visitors 15 yards outside of its penalty box.
Natalia Angelone played the free kick into the box and before EG could clear it from its penalty area, Beaudoin slipped it past goalie Caroline Preston.
“We’re working really hard right now and we’re doing it as a team,” Dwyer said. “We’re trying to build momentum right now. We want to be in the playoffs.”
Coventry survived the remaining 20 minutes of the opening half, but just two minutes into the second half Coventry gave up a soft goal. Junior forward Giovanna Mandarini was the final EG player to touch the ball before the Oakers accidently put it into the net.
Mandarini deserved the goal after her hard work in the first half. The junior had two chances in the final two minutes, including one in the final minute when she flicked a corner kick just past Derrick’s far post.
“After this tie I think it’s going to sink in that what just happened was like a loss and maybe it will inspire them to train harder, practice harder and be more prepared to play,” Douglas said. “There’s nothing more to be said. They know what they have to do. I really can’t say too much negative because we controlled the game and didn’t lose.”
The combination of midfielders Sarah Nardella and Amanda Egan helped Coventry push back wave after wave of EG attacks to earn the Oakers their second straight draw.
“We could’ve gotten down after they scored that goal, which was kind of a terrible goal to give up,” Daigneault said. “They responded well to that and still played good soccer.”