EAST GREENWICH - Shutout victories have become a staple for the Cumberland High School girls soccer team in 2019. The Clippers recorded nine of them in the regular season before going on to blank Barrington by a 1-0 final in the quarterfinals of the D-I State Tournament.
Add one more to that list following Wednesday night’s victory over No. 3 seed North Kingstown by a 3-2 count in Penalty Kicks.
Goalie Juliette Vemmer, having denied the Skippers a goal for 80 minutes of regulation plus another 10 minutes of overtime, saw her skills in net put to the test in a nail-biting shootout to determine which team would take on South Kingstown in Saturday’s championship contest.
No. 2 seed Cumberland built a 3-2 lead for themselves in the shootout, as everything came down to NK’s Helena Deresky. The junior forward gave all she had, but her shot was denied by Vemmer, as her teammates rushed to her side to join in on the celebration, having punched a ticket to the finals.
“We’re very confident with JJ in net,” Clipper head coach John Hoxsie said of Vemmer’s play.
“She’s given up six goals in seventeen games now. We’re more than confident with her.”
Had Deresky managed to even the shootout up at 3-3, Hoxsie noted that Vemmer still would have had the opportunity to play hero for the night, even before getting the chance to come up with another save.
“She’s was our fifth shooter,” he said, with his goalie set to take the next kick for his team in the shootout should it have continued. “I’m glad it didn’t get to her, but I kind of wanted to see it,” he admitted.
As for the overall match itself, the defensive affair followed a similar path as the 1-0 final South Kingstown secured over top-seeded La Salle in the earlier semifinal matchup.
Denying NK’s offense was no easy task.
“We know that North Kingstown scores a ton more goals than we do,” Hoxsie said of the Skippers (12-2-3) who had accumulated 50 goals over the course of the season, which included a 5-0 win over Mt. Hope in the quarterfinals.
The Clippers were one of the few teams to hold their offense in check this year, prevailing in their lone regular season meeting with them back on October 16.
“We played them earlier in the season, beat them 1-0. To shut them out, that was big for us, that was huge,” Hoxsie said of the confidence his team had going into Wednesday’s playoff contest.
“I’ve been saying all along, that’s the best team we’ve faced all year, so being able to shut them out two times is incredible,” the Clipper coach said. “Our defense has been phenomenal all year. They don’t give up much.”
NK’s defense did not give up much either, with goalie Maya Gamble matching Vemmer tit for tat throughout the night, despite her own offense having a number of shots narrowly miss the back of the net.
The Skippers shot first in the shootout with senior forward Amaya Dickenson failing to get a shot past Vemmer. Cumberland took a 1-0 lead as Gianna Sarmento sent a shot into the upper right hand corner of the net, only to have NK respond with a score by Charlotte Simmons. The Clippers quickly responded on a goal from Paige Vieira before taking a 3-1 lead on a goal from Abby Free after NK’s Haleigh Ward hit the top cross bar. Jasmine Ranieri cut the deficit to 3-2, before Gamble recorded her first save in the shootout, but it would be to no avail, as Vemmer capped the night by denying Deresky the game-tying shot.