WEST WARWICK- The West Warwick girls soccer team managed to come away with a hard fought 3-3 draw on Tuesday afternoon, as they played host to the Westerly Bulldogs. The tie brought the Wizards record to 1-0-1 on the young season, while, Westerly, still in search of their first win of the year, sits at 0-2-1 following Tuesday’s match.
Senior co-captain Brooke Young was at the center of each of the three goals the Wizards scored, netting two of them herself, while assisting on another scored by Bryanna Smith. Carissa Gaglione turned in a strong performance in net, with the goalie wracking up a total of 8 saves, while her counterpart, Macie Woycik recorded an equal number for the Bulldogs.
A lot has changed, both internally and externally for the Wizards since their disappointing loss to Middletown in last year’s Division III State Finals, a defeat that put a damper on an otherwise dominant 14-0-2 season. Since then, West Warwick has made the transition up to Division II, as they begin a new era of Wizards soccer.
Senior Brooke Young and junior Kat Biliouris comprise the team’s two captains, while Ashley Tapia, Cora Silvia, Bryanna Smith, Carissa Gaglione, Karina Carreiro, Mackenzie Derderian and Beatriz Sebastiao make up the handful of seniors on this year’s squad. Head coach Daniel Lima has seen both positives and negatives from this year’s group, something he touched on after Tuesday’s tie.
“We’ve got to find a way to get up to speed. We lost some good players and it’s not easy to replace them,” he said, touching on the fact that the Wizards can no longer rely on the efforts of last year’s co-captains Haley Tyler, Faith Couture and Alissa Rankin in addition to other players like Meghan Letendre and Deandra Hernandez who have also since graduated.
“We’re not gelling right now,” Lima said, but added that the offensive power displayed by his club has been an area of strength. Through their first two matches, the Wizards have outscored their opponents by an 8-6 margin. “I think there are some good things coming out of that. We are scoring goals, which is big,” he said.
The biggest test will be how the squad manages their transition into D-II play.
“It’s a big step for us. We know we’re not going to finish in the top three or top four, but we’re going to try to at least make the playoffs and anything can happen from there,” he said. “That’s our goal.”
As for the increased level of play, Lima acknowledged that it is there, but is confident that by year’s end, his team will be capable of playing with anybody.
“There’s a little speed involved and it’s a little more physical. We’ll adjust to it,” he said.
The Wizards kicked off the year with a non-league showdown against Cranston East in the annual Injury Fund Tournament, a contest they won by a 2-0 final before beginning their season in ernest against North Providence on Sept. 8. A high-scoring affair would wind up going the Wizards’ way, as they prevailed by a 5-3 score.
Sophomore Danielle Maynard recorded a hat trick in the win, while Brooke Young and Shalyne Scott each tacked on a goal of their own in addition to a pair of assists by Mackenzie Derderian. The Wizards will be back in action on Saturday afternoon as they host Moses Brown at 12 p.m.