EAST PROVIDENCE — The 2012 season for the East Providence High School boys’ soccer team came to an excruciating end Thursday night, Nov. 1, with a 2-1 overtime loss to host Tolman at the McKinnon-Alves Complex in the opening round of the Division I State Championship Tournament.
The eighth-seeded Townies finished their fall with a record of 5-7-3 in league games. The ninth-seeded Tigers improved to 6-5-4 and advance to a quarterfinal round contest on the road against top-seeded and unbeaten Barrington (10-0-4) Saturday afternoon, Nov. 3, at 4:30.
Corey Chantre netted the game-winning tally for Tolman, a controversial cross that broke through the hands of East Providence keeper Edwin Sam three minutes into the second of two 10-minute overtime periods. Anderson Monteiro was credited with the assist.
Sam came off his line to field the cross, bumped into traffic, lost control of the ball but lunged and seemingly prevented the entire ball from crossing the goal line. The referee said he hadn’t and Tolman was awarded what proved the decisive goal.
Falling back into a more defensive posture, Tolman allowed the Townies a few looks deep in the Tigers’ end over the final few minutes, though the locals did not put a testing chance on net before the final whistle.
“Edwin said the ball didn’t cross the line. I take him at his word,” said EPHS head coach Tony Vieira. “It’s a tough way for the season to end. These kids have been giving it their all for the last four months, some of them for the last four years. You never want to have a game end that way, but it happens.”
Monteiro had scored the Tigers’ initial goal, which actually knotted the game at one minutes before the end of the first half.
The sequence began with a long free kick by E.P. that Tolman keeper Adam Ghazal handled easily. The Tigers’ keeper quickly restarted the action with a throw. Monteiro was soon on the ball and dribbled to the top of the 18 before unleashing a low, heavy shot a diving Sam couldn’t knock outside of the right post.
Tolman started the game well, holding a significant possession and shots edge for much of the first half, but had nothing to show for its effort. Most of the Tigers’ attempts towards goal were off target and from distance.
The Townies finally found their footing late in the opening 40 minutes and made the most of their limited chances at the time. On just his team’s third shot of the night, senior captain Colby Sousa drilled home a free kick in the 24th minute to put the locals in front. Sousa let loose a low drive, aimed perfectly beneath the feet of the jumping Tolman wall.
“I thought they did a better job of possessing the ball, but I thought we did a better job of going forward,” Vieira said. “They didn’t get too many quality shots on goal. We did the job defensively.”
East Providence maintained the momentum of the goal while the Tigers seemed a bit deflated by falling behind. Tolman’s mood changed, however, in the 38th minute following the heady play of Ghazal and the hard boot on Monteiro.
To the Townies credit, though, they weren’t deterred. East Providence remained the more aggressive side throughout the entirety of the second half. The locals likely will rue several missed chances in the final 40 minutes of regulation, especially four extremely tasty opportunities just after intermission.
“It was absolutely the key part of the game. It was a similar situation when we played them during the regular season. We should have been up 4-1, but we didn’t put away our chances,” Vieira said, referencing the Townies’ 1-all draw against the Tigers back on Oct. 12.
Ghazal, Tolman’s junior keeper, was the man of the match for the Tigers, and he earned that distinction by keeping the Townies off the board early in the second period. He made a superb reflex hand save of a Nick Lopes blast from inside the 18 to the right in the 42nd minute. Moments later, he charged off his line to smother a potential shot by a free Randy Kuoadio onside behind the Tigers’ back four.
Ghazal followed up by making two more impressive stops on quality E.P. chances over the next few minutes.
“Nick maybe could have gotten a bit more on his shot and Randy has to score from six yards out, but their keeper did his job. He was definitely the man of the match for me,” Vieira added.