TIVERTON —Powerhouse Exeter/West Greenwich doused the Tiverton boys Division III soccer title hopes in a hard-played 3-0 championship match Saturday at Rhode Island College.
The talented Scarlet Knights, who finished 15-0-2 (including a 5-1 win over Tiverton on October 26) and have been dominant for three years, won their first state title and finished with a 15-0-2 season.
Second-seeded Tiverton, which wraps up a 13-3-1 season, was also undone by a barrage of cards — six yellows and two reds. Under Rhode Island Interscholastic League rules, the fifth yellow card, which came with 6:17 left in the game, brought an automatic expulsion for Tiverton coach Tom Murray who also faces a two-game suspension next year and a $50 fine. Also thrown out for red cards were Tiverton’s Zach Blais and Dylan Pacheco. Exeter/West Greenwich received just one yellow card.
The rough stuff partially overshadowed what had been a strong effort by the Tigers, especially during the first half when they played the favored Scarlet Knights even after an early Scarlet Knights goal.
Exeter/West Greenwich star and tournament MVP Mark Christofaro sent a corner kick to an open player who headed the ball past Costa into the corner of the net.
Although the Scarlet Knights rattled the crossbar twice, Tiverton managed to frustrate the EWG offense through much of the half.
The Scarlet Knights ramped up the pressure in the second half, forcing Costa to make a number of challenging saves — highlights included his leaping deflection of a well-placed corner kick and diving block of a shot bound for the low corner.
Tiverton’s Corey Newbury provided the Tigers’ best scoring chance after a free kick. As the ball bounced about in front of the net, he managed to get a shot off that would likely have gone in had not a defender gotten a foot in the way at the last moment, sending the ball clear of the net.
Christofaro figured in each of the Scarlet Knights’ two second-half scores. He scored one on a breakaway and assisted on another via a corner kick.
Tiverton’s route to the title game included a 2-0 quarterfinal win over West Warwick, and a 3-1 win over Davies in the semifinals.
Named to the all-tournament team were Tiverton Isaiah Lopes, Hayden Costa and Corey Newbury.