PORTSMOUTH — Despite a seemingly comfortable 4-0 lead with less than 20 minutes to go in the Division II girls’ state soccer championship game Saturday, the Patriots never took their foot …
PORTSMOUTH — Despite a seemingly comfortable 4-0 lead with less than 20 minutes to go in the Division II girls’ state soccer championship game Saturday, the Patriots never took their foot off the brake.
Portsmouth senior Lily Ferreira had just gone down with an injury, and as she lay on the turf junior Abby Costa huddled with her teammates as members of the Scituate team walked around the field separately, as if accepting defeat.
“I was just trying to fix our little mistakes — what we were doing wrong. I felt like we were doing great, but there are obviously ways to improve all the time,” said Costa, who had scored the first goal of the game — a left-footed boot in the left side of the goal with about 22 minutes left in the first half.
“We were all talking about what we were going to do next,” said senior goalkeeper Eve Fitzpatrick, who was also doing a lot of the talking in the huddle. “We were going to swing it wide and then shoot it, and it ended up working perfectly. Whenever someone’s down, we always just talk about the game, which is something most teams don’t do.”
Sure enough, as soon as play resumed the Patriots stormed down the field, with Costa immediately scoring her second goal after dribbling the ball along the left sideline.
That put the Patriots up, 5-0, and it seemed all but over at that point. Fitzpatrick, who was outstanding in the shootout that determined Portsmouth’s win over Lincoln on Nov. 8, gave up only one goal Saturday — and that was on a meaningless penalty kick with less than a minute left to make it 5-1.
Soon after, the Patriots rushed to the center of the field to celebrate a championship that not only erased the bad memories of last year, when Portsmouth suffered a heartbreaking 1-0 loss to Burrillville in the finals, but also avenged an earlier regular season loss to No. 1-seeded Scituate. Playing on the smaller Manning Soccer/Lax field in Scituate, the Spartans beat the Patriots decisively, 4-1.
What was the difference between the two games?
“I think we grew as a team together,” said Fitzpatrick, adding she didn’t believe the Spartans were on the same page Saturday compared to her teammates, whom she described as “awesome.”
“I think when we’re angry, we work it out together and don’t take it out on one person,” she said.
McGuire said the conditions for the first game were very different compared to Saturday. “It was right after school for us; we’re still students, so we had tired legs,” she said, adding the smaller field in Scituate also bothered the Patriots, and that the team grew hungrier later in the season.
“I feel like today we really came to play, and that was our best game,” added Costa. “When they beat us, that wasn’t our best performance for sure, and we weren’t working as well as we are now. We built up that trust in each other and came to play today — we possessed and we dominated.”
Head coach Erin Hulse was also asked about the differences between the two Patriots/Spartans games.
“I think one, the field,” she said. “We play really good when we have a lot of space; we like to move the ball around lot. On a small, tight field like they had, we struggled to keep possession.”
Her players also came into the playoffs with a better mindset, however.
“When we went into that first game, we hadn’t really been challenged yet to that extent,” Hulse said. “They kind of put us on our heels; they were a very physical team. Today it was our game to win. We came in (seeking) redemption from last year and our loss to them earlier in the season. The girls were just ready, and we worked really hard on fitness, possession, playing a skilled game. They played their best game today; they put it all out there.”
That certainly was evident during the game, with the Patriots consistently beating the Spartans to the ball, winning most of the one-on-one matchups, and getting more shots on goal.
Moving on up
Next year, the Lady Patriots are moving back up into Division I; that decision was made around the middle of the season.
“We’re ready. I think today is proof that we belong there,” the coach said.
McGuire said the underclassmen like herself are also ready for next year.
“I am so insanely proud of us,” McGuire said. “After last year and coming so close against Burrillville, and then during regular season losing 4-1 to Scituate, but then coming back and beating them 5-1, I couldn’t be more proud.”
She can’t wait to play in Division I.
“I’m ready to come back and kick some butt.”
Who scored, and when
Here’s how the scoring plays for Portsmouth broke down on Saturday:
• Abby Costa, with 22:35 left in the first half
• Evelyn Shuster, a junior, with about 18 minutes left in the first half
• Kylie Delemos, a sophomore, on a penalty kick with 12 minutes to go in the first half
• Claire Hook, a senior, with about 32 minutes to go in the second half
• Costa again, with about 22 minutes left in the game