EAST GREENWICH—So far, it’s been nearly all chalk in the Division I Girls Soccer Tournament.
Aside from No. 10 Cumberland beating No. 7 Kingstown in the opening round, every higher seed has held in D-I and Sunday No. 3 seed East Greenwich added itself as the last name to that list.
Senior Sarah Beaulieu’s goal in the final 10 minutes made the difference as the Avengers held off a pesky Smithfield squad for a 2-1 win to advance to the D-I semifinals.
“The good thing about it is we finally have scored two quality goals that we earned,” EG coach Scott Douglas said. “We hadn’t scored in a number of games.”
The Avengers luck out with East Greenwich High School hosting the final four and will face No. 2 Bay View today at 7 p.m. in the second game of a semifinal doubleheader with No. 1 La Salle and No. 4 Exeter-West Greenwich battling in the opener at 5 p.m.
“[Of] the top four teams anyone can win it,” Douglas said. “Even though La Salle hasn’t allowed any goals and hasn’t lost, La Salle can be beat.”
While it has been the Avengers’ goal all season to get to at least the semifinals the defending champion Sentinels didn’t make it easy Sunday.
East Greenwich struck first when junior Giovanna Mandarini headed in a goal off a Marissa McCann free kick from the left side in the 18th minute.
The Avenger defense held strong but with a little less than two and half minutes to go until halftime Smithfield caught a bit of a break.
Alyssa Ricci got a foot on a bouncing ball just inside the corner of the 18-yard box that found its way over the outstretched arm of EG keeper Caroline Preston’s hand and under the cross bar to knot the score at 1-1.
“I felt their goal wasn’t the strongest,” Douglas said. “It happens and the one thing I’m really proud of the girls is they didn’t get deflated and quit when that goal went in.
“…They stepped up, they played really hard in the second half, they got a little tired but they did well so I’ll take it.”
East had a number of strong chances early in the second half but could not break through.
Then with 15 minutes to play Beaulieu reentered the game from the bench and made an immediate impact, getting a strong shot on goal from the right side that was turned away with 10 minutes to play.
Less than 90 seconds later the senior captain came through for her team, finishing off a great left to right cross from Jen Sarazen to break the tie and ultimately give her team the win.
“She’s a hard-working kid,” Douglas said of Beaulieu. “She’s like that blue collar player that you want and just doesn’t stop. Works hard, plays hard and never quits. She saved our butts tonight and did a great job.
“…She is definitely a senior captain and she’s a great role model and the girls look up to her. It’s nice and I’m happy. They deserve to be in the semifinal, they had a good year and it would have been a shame to see them go out tonight.”