The first time the Toll Gate field hockey team played Cranston East this season, the Titans fought hard in one of their closest games of the season, eventually losing by two goals.
In the rematch on Friday, Toll Gate kept up the fight, but the ’Bolts offense made sure it wasn’t close this time around.
East scored three goals in the first half, including two in the first 11 minutes of the game to gain the upper hand. Beatrix Kanno finished with two goals and two assists, Michelle Nunez added two goals and the ’Bolts cruised to a 5-1 victory.
Toll Gate fell to 0-12 in Division II, adding another loss to what has already been a hard season. Molly Turner scored for the Titans late, but that was essentially their only highlight. It hasn’t been for a lack of effort, but Toll Gate just can’t seem to put it all together for a full game.
“It’s been a tough season,” Toll Gate head coach Sherri Boisvert said. “The girls are starting to cry at the end of the game. I’m starting to feel really bad. I was hoping for a couple of wins.”
On Friday, Kanno and Nunez put the Titans on their heels almost immediately.
First, just 8:20 into the contest, Kanno slid a pass from the right side of the goal all the way through to the left and Nunez one-timed it past goalie Shanelle Lawson for a 1-0 lead.
Three minutes later, Kanno did it herself, dribbling through a slew of defenders and then slapping the ball home to put East up 2-0.
“It definitely gives a good cushion for you,” East head coach Sarah Knowlton said of the early lead. “You feel confident to play more people, give some people more experience.”
For the rest of the half Toll Gate held its own, even getting two penalty corners and a couple of decent looks for leading scorer Molly Turner.
But Turner couldn’t connect, and soon enough the ’Bolts were back on the offensive. With 8:30 to play before halftime Kanno again created an opportunity, and her shot was deflected out by Lawson. Nunez, though, was there for the rebound and a 3-0 lead.
For a team that has scored just seven goals all season, a three-goal deficit at the break was nearly insurmountable.
“Down 3-0, it’s tough to come back at halftime and even score,” Boisvert said.
Early in the second half, East extended its lead again when Isabella LeClair scored, making it 4-0.
The score could have been worse, however, if it was not for Lawson.
Faced with a barrage of shots all year, Lawson leads D-II in saves with 214, and she held her own all day against on the ’Bolts.
“She’ll be back,” Boisvert said. “I really think that she’s going to be All-State. She literally has 200-plus saves. She’s awesome.”
Turner created a few more chances over the next few minutes before East extended its lead to 5-0 on Kanno’s second goal of the game, this one coming with 11:12 remaining in the game.
But Toll Gate continued to push, as Turner was able to rip a high shot into the East goal a few minutes later, making the score 5-1.
She nearly scored again two minutes later on another high shot – which drew her a card – and the Titans’ Katelyn Foeller also had a look, but in the end Toll Gate didn’t have enough.
“Every time Molly shoots they want to throw her out of the game, which stinks for her,” Boisvert said. “She’s actually someone who belongs playing the sport in the first division.”
East improved to 4-6-2 in D-II and is in sixth place in the division, which is currently the final playoff spot.
“I’m just really proud of them,” Knowlton said. “They’re really coming together. They improve every single day. I have a lot of young players, but just getting them out there and getting that experience, that’s what I want.”
For Toll Gate, not all hope is lost, as it still has four games to play, including some winnable ones.
It hosts 5-3-3 Cumberland today at 4 p.m., which might be tough, but then takes on 2-8-1 Rocky Hill on the road on Thursday at 4 p.m.
Rocky Hill beat Toll Gate 1-0 earlier in the season.
Next Monday, the Titans will get another shot at 1-10 Warwick Vets as well.
“I just want my girls to win a game or two, especially the seniors that are leaving,” Boisvert said.
East will be back in action today as well, as it travels to Vets for a 3:45 p.m. start.