NARRAGANSETT — Two high school boys’ soccer teams heading in opposite directions in the Division-Two standings met last Wednesday,, Oct. 17 in Narragansett with the Mariners sneaking out a 2-0 victory over Mt. Hope.
Narragansett elevated its record to 8-1-4 while the Huskies slid to 2-10-1. Surprisingly, Mt. Hope has a legitimate shot at earning one of the dozen postseason berths allotted to the division.
“We can still get in the playoffs,” Mt. Hope coach Oscar DeLemos said. “The top 12 get in. All we have to do is beat (5-3-4) Mt. St. Charles and (2-4-5) Mt. Pleasant.”
While it remains to be seen if the Huskies can grab a couple of wins in their final two regular-season matches and also get some help from other teams, it is known Mt. Hope suffered the latest in a string of narrow setbacks this season when it fell to the league-leading Mariners. Five of the Huskies losses have come by two goals or less.
“We’ve played so many close games. We’re just so close this year,” Delemos said.
Such was the tale Oct. 17 when a call didn’t go in Mt. Hope’s favor and tilted the game’s outcome.
Narragansett pushed the ball deep into Mt. Hope territory and Alec Cotroneo got a step on a Mt. Hope defender to the left of the box. He carried the ball in deep to the goal line and veered toward the goal with the defender still trailing him. Cotroneo, trying to fend off contact, lost his balance and the referee blew his whistle awarding the Mariners a penalty kick. Tod Wright cleanly beat Mt. Hope keeper Michael Tyler to his left giving Narragansett a 1-0 lead with 21 minutes left in the match.
“We made a couple little mistakes and then a real questionable penalty kick in my opinion,” DeLemos said. “It kind of took us out of it. It deflated the team. It was zero-zero, there’s still like 15 minutes left in the game against a very good Narragansett team. It’s unfortunate that the call was made.”
Delemos questioned the official after the game and the ref said, “(the defender) was grabbing him outside the box and I let it go as a ‘play on.’ Then when they got into the box he shoved him down. It was clear to me.”
The goal did drag the Huskies down after they had battled the division leaders on even terms for three-quarters of the match. But they had a realistic chance of tying the score a couple of minutes after the goal. A Mt. Hope player was hauled down
just outside the penalty area and the Huskies were awarded a direct kick from about 20 yards.
Trevor Sousa drilled the ball right at the five-man wall and it caromed back to him. He fired again with the same result. Mt. Hope was able to keep the ball in deep for the next 90 seconds but could not get off a clear shot from in close as the Mariners closed down their defense. It was much the same story the entire game.
“They’ve got two big, tall defenders there so it was tough to break through,” said De DeLemos. “I think we held the ball very well, one-two combination plays spreading the field, but we just couldn’t finish.
“We were trying to get balls through but both of our strikers were having a hard time turning off the big defenders. We tried to move a couple other guys around to get some speed up there. It was just difficult”
Narragansett got the insurance goal with three minutes left when Wright pounced on a rebound of a shot blocked by a Mt. Hope defender and put it past keeper Michael Tyler who had no chance to stop it.
The Huskies deserve applause for being able to battle Narragansett on almost even terms the entire game seeing as how they have numerous starting players out with medical issues. Juniors Dylan Mitchell, Jeremy Spence and Randy Estrada are among those who are gaining invaluable playing time.
“We hit the injury bug the past 10 days,” said DeLemos. “We have five starters missing. I thought the boys off the bench have really stepped up and are starting to gel well with the others. I’m proud of all of them, the whole team. I thought they played a fantastic game with a little bit of adversity we have here.
“Dylan Mitchell has been fantastic for us in the midfield. Jeremy Spence is playing stopper for us and he’s been very consistent there. Randy Estrada is a solid player who’s very versatile. We can play him out wide, in the middle or up top. He’s taken those rolls on for us and played very well.”
The Mariners outshot the Huskies 17-13. Tyler finished with eight saves, three more then counterpart Zachary McKanna. John Ryan had Mt. Hope’s best chance to score but his one-timer off an Estrada pass was right at McKanna with five minutes left in the first half.