EAST GREENWICH – Cumberland High head coach Mary Kiley may have been drenched, but she couldn’t have been more thrilled with the final result early Saturday evening.
Her Clippers had just survived a wildly-entertaining 11-9 victory over Division I host East Greenwich in a near-constant drizzle at Nick Carcieri Field, one she called most necessary if her squad wanted to progress at all this season.
“It’s amazing; we really needed that one,” she offered after her club improved to 2-4 on the campaign. “I feel this could be the turning point of our season; we’ve had some really rough losses that I thought we should have won. I’m hoping this is going to give us added confidence through the next couple of matches.”
The Avengers, on the hand, fell to 2-2 in league action, though EG chief Karen Lemont had a pretty solid explanation as to why. She indicated that, on Friday, she only had 16 players show up for practice – that is, between the varsity and JV programs – due to school vacation week, and that five starters were absent.
An assistant said simply that EG’s “varsity team is still 2-1, but the JV-varsity team is 2-2.”
In the end, CHS senior Lauren Sheehan scored an insurance tally on a feed from junior Hannah Guerin with only 3.8 ticks remaining in regulation to seal the win.
“This was all about teamwork,” Kiley stated. “We really were working on our transition game a lot, and having the kids work on their own specific goals. Our middies were working on getting the draw, our attack was working on scoring, our defense on forcing and denying the drive.
“We had an 8-4 lead at halftime, but they dominated most of the second half,” she added. “Trust me, this was a very frustrating game; we’ve been a one-half team all year, and it’s been tough trying to get them to play the full 50 minutes. We’re still learning to do that, but we’ve been working on team-building and making sure they were confident that they could win.
“Down the stretch, I think they had in their minds there were going to win, and they weren’t going to stop until they got it. They pulled it out, and I’m proud of them.”
Guerin led the Clippers with four goals and three assists, while classmate Elise Curren contributed a hat trick and feed; Sheehan two scores and three assists; 12th-grader Sophie Goddard and junior Braelee Abilheira-Cargill a tally each; and senior Casey Farrell and sophomore Maddie Durkin an assist apiece.
For EG, senior standout Chloe Moss closed with five goals and a feed; classmate Julia Matus two tallies and two assists; and junior Laurel Koehler a pair of scores.
With 8:33 remaining in the opening session, Moss planted a feed from Matus past CHS freshman keeper Katie Barriere to slice the Clippers’ cushion to 5-3, yet the visitors erupted for three straight (Guerin, Goddard and Curren) over the next 6:50 to claim the 8-3 advantage.
It appeared it would remain that way when freshman Jenna Hooper picked off a pass in front of Barriere with 63 ticks left and raced it from harm.
That, however, lasted only so long, as – with exactly one-tenth of a second remaining – Moss smoked a try past the netminder to cut the deficit in half at the break.
Whatever Lemont told her crew during intermission, she should bottle the soliloquy.
Koehler nailed a penalty shot with only 1:31 elapsed in the 25-minute half, and Leah Chase knocked in a nifty backhand from close range (with her back to the cage) off a turnover to knife it to 8-6. Exactly 5:14 later, Moss collected her second consecutive tally to knot it at 8-8.
With 11:09 remaining in regulation, though, Sheehan took it behind the opponent’s net, cut around the left post and delivered a pinpoint pass to Curren, and she ripped it home to give CHS the lead for good.
The Guerin-Sheehan Connection reigned again with 6:43 left to make it 10-8, yet Matos needed less than a minute to cut it back to 10-9. That score stood until Sheehan’s dramatic goal near the horn.
“I’d say our comeback was the result of their desire to be here despite the weather, despite the fact it was vacation, and the people who showed up and were here all week for practice, they just got pumped up,” Lemont said. “They wanted to win, and that motivation showed. In the end, we just had too many turnovers, and the other team was stalling (the final two-plus minutes).
“That made it difficult to do anything.”