Tiverton shines in shootout, wins state title
They let in only two goals all season, earned a near-perfect 17-0-1 record. They sailed through the playoffs to secure their spot at Cranston Stadium for the Division III state championship finals.
Tiverton shines in shootout, wins state title
The Tiverton girls soccer team let in only two goals all season, earned a near-perfect 17-0-1 record. They sailed through the playoffs to secure their spot at Cranston Stadium for the Division III state championship finals. Yet after falling behind and facing their only loss of the 2019 season, the Tigers rallied to achieve their most impressive feat yet – defending their crown in a 1-1 (8-7) shootout victory over Cranston East this past Saturday, November 9.
“We’ve been practicing since June for this moment,” said junior forward Sydney Silvia.
Yet it was a moment that almost never happened. Stepping onto the turf that night, the top-seeded Tigers might have figured they had the odds in their favor. They also, however, understood the hunger that comes from being the underdog, as was the case for third-seed Cranston East; after all, that was Tiverton last year, when they upset Narragansett in a 1-0 double-overtime win.
“We came into it knowing that they wanted it ten times harder,” Silvia said.
Sure enough, the Thunderbolts came ready to battle. Throughout the first 40 minutes of play, they kept Tiverton’s offense – led by top goal scorers Mariah Ramos and Victoria McGovern – largely subdued while putting the pressure on Emma Lopes in net – including a shot that forced a diving save from the sophomore goalie in the final seconds of the half.
It was a stark contrast to the first time the two teams competed at the very beginning of the regular season, when Tiverton won easily by a score of 4-0.
“We were a different team, and they were a different team,” said head coach Jim Gauch.
While the girls’ may have started off more “panicked,” Mr. Gauch said, than they would have liked, the Tigers – encouraged by senior captain Kayley Nagle – attempted to regroup and start fresh for the second half. It was Cranston East, however, that would get on the scoreboard first, on a penalty kick by Hope Halvarson 20 minutes in.
Suddenly finding themselves down, however, lit a fire under the Tigers’ feet. Ramos and midfielder Hannah Marley answered with some opportunities of their own – but as the clock kept ticking down, the Tigers were still unable to find the back of the net.
With four minutes left, though, Tiverton drew a yellow card from Cranston East’s Giannie Soto, earning themselves a free kick. Shot by Ramos, the ball sailed high and left – out of the reach of goalie Zasia Barron and into the net.
“I’m just happy Mariah Ramos pulled through,” said Silvia.
With the game now tied, the Tigers, for the second year in a row, braced themselves for two five-minutes periods of overtime competition. If they had learned anything from last year’s tournament season, it was to be prepared for anything – including the penalty shot showdown that resulted when overtime failed to decide things.
“We saw what happened last year in the finals for Division II,” Mr. Gauch said. “We were ready for it.”
It certainly showed. Going second, Tiverton’s first five shooters – Chana Urrego, Ramos, Jillian Swass, McGovern and Mikayla Esteves – all found the back of the net. Cranston East, however, also scored in all five of their attempts, forcing additional kickers. Barron and Lopes both held off each team’s sixth shooters – Madison Ridore for Cranston East, Hannah Marley for Tiverton – but failed to stop their seventh shots – scored by the Thunderbolts’ Phoebe Herriott and the Tigers’ Kate Zmich.
After Lopes made another save on Giannie Soto, however, Coach Gauch made a split-second decision to bump Silvia up as his eighth shooter. His faith in the junior paid off as she placed the ball straight into the lower right corner of the goal, ending the shootout and earning Tiverton their second-straight state championship win.
“I’m just happy that my coach trusted me enough to do that for us,” Silvia said.
Though Silvia will be returning next year, the Tigers are graduating a number of seniors this year – including Nagle, Swass, Marley, defender Maisie McQueen, midfielder Brenna Nobrega and forward Elexxia Fournier.
They add up to a significant loss, the coach said.
This team has depth, however, and Coach Gauch said he has reason to b elieve that his girls will be competitive once again in 2020 – even with the possibility of them moving up to Division II.
“It will go on,” the coach said, “and we’ll pick up next August.”