Portsmouth High girls’ soccer team advances in playoffs
PORTMOUTH — The lady Patriots of the Portsmouth High School girls’ soccer team emerged victorious Tuesday night after their first-round playoff matchup against the Eagles of Barrington High School.
Portsmouth won the game, 3-0, and advanced to the next round of the Division 1 playoffs.
The PHS squad went into the playoffs as the fifth seed and matched up against the 12th seed of Barrington High in the first round.
PHS got the first goal of the game coming from junior forward Kelley Coyne. Coyne launched a rocket from the top of the 18-yard box 24 minutes into the first half and gave the Patriots the early momentum. Although Barrington dominated the possession in the first half, PHS capitalized on its shots on goal and made the most of their scoring chances.
The second half was dominated in both facets of the game by Portsmouth, which added two more goals in the second half coming from Coyne and senior captain Lean Hibbad. The defense for Portsmouth shut down Barrington in the second half as well. After being out-shot in the first half, PHS held Barrington to only three shots in the entire second half and was never really challenged on the defensive end.
“They protected the 18 (yard box) like I told them,” said Portsmouth head coach Jim Blaess when asked about his team’s defense. “They got off to a little shaky start in the first 15 (minutes), but they settled down and found their rhythm.”
Even though PHS went into halftime with a 1-0 lead, the Eagles dominated the possession in the first half. Portsmouth came out in the second half and was more determined to make a statement and put the game out of reach. The change in attitude was immediate and the atmosphere of the game shifted toward the Patriots. The two goals and the limited number of shots allowed displayed the team's intensity coming into the second half.
“We talked about how we had to pick it,” said Coyne when asked about the halftime adjustments made by the Patriots after their sluggish first half. “If we are playing against harder teams, we need to make it a better game.”
Portsmouth's opening-round playoff win follows a disappointing 2-0 loss in its last regular season game against North Kingstown last week at home. Mr. Blaess said he was hoping to see a better performance from his players Tuesday than what he saw against North Kingstown, and he got it.
"I think it was a good wake-up call for us," Mr Blaess said after the loss last week.
On the road Thursday
The Patriots will continue their playoff push on Thursday, Oct. 31, on the road against Exeter/West Greenwich at 3:30 p.m.
Exeter/West Greenwich is the fourth seed in the playoffs, so the Patriots will be tested. Mr. Blaess said Division 1 teams are so evenly matched that any number of them could end up with the state title in the end.
Check out more photos from the game in the gallery below.