When Tiverton High School girls soccer head coach Joseph Gill called Portsmouth High Schools head coach Jim Blaess to schedule a game between their teams, both coaches knew what to expect. For Tiverton, the hope was for a good test against a division one opponent. For Portsmouth, it was a chance to play some of their younger players who don’t get too much playing time during their competitive season. With no impact on the record or standings for either team, thepurpose of the game was to build experience.
“When I scheduled the game it was to get us ready for the tournament because Portsmouth has a great team year in and year out,” Gill said. “It will help us come tournament time so that is the main reason why we scheduled it.”
Portsmouth won the game over Tiverton on Saturday night by a score of 3-0. The Patriots controlled the possession for the majority of the game, which led to many scoring chances.
“Our style of play is a possession style of play. The fitness level and fitness demands are much greater in division one,” Blaess said. “We emphasize a lot of fitness and a lot of off-the-ball movement to keep things going.”
Tiverton’s sophomore goaltender Amber Silva was able to hold off the Patriots offense at bay with multiple saves early in the game. The closest chance came when Portsmouth senior Jessica Kaufman drilled a ball toward the corner of the goal but Silva was able to knock it away with her hands.
“Amber has been rock solid all year long,” Gill said. “Ever since the beginning of the season, there have been games that we possibly could have lost but she has been solid and has really had a great season so far.”
Portsmouth finally scored its first goal of the game 26 minutes into the first half when junior Kelley Coyne kicked one off the hands of Silva and into the net.
In the second half, Portsmouth was able to convert on a couple of chances early. The first came off a shot from Kaufman that was hit perfectly out of the reach of Silva and into the top corner of the net. The next goal came from senior Kristina Caragianis who, after having a goal taken away minutes prior because of a hand ball, was able to knock one into the net to give Portsmouth the 3-0 lead. Although Tiverton suffered the loss, Gill was pleased with his team’s efforts.
“I thought we played pretty well,” Gill said. “It’s a friendly rivalry, it’s not like there is any animosity.”
Tiverton is hoping to get healthy again as they only played 13 of their 26 players on Saturday night because of injuries. On top of that, four of those 13 players usually play on their JV roster. This created an even greater challenge for a Tiverton team that was already playing a team from a higher division.
After Saturday night, both teams are now starting to get ready for playoff time. For Portsmouth, the aim is to get their players ready for the tournament and make a deep playoff run. Tiverton, on the other hand, still has to fight to make the playoffs as the team is on the bubble as of now. With only a few games remaining in the regular season, each game is crucial for both teams.