If the Pilgrim girls’ soccer team had any complaints about Tuesday’s game with Cranston East, it was that it didn’t finish all of its scoring chances.
But that would be nitpicking – and the Pats still finished plenty of them.
Behind two goals from Katelyn Vieira and five more goals from five different players, Pilgrim routed the ’Bolts 7-0 to stay undefeated. The Pats are 6-0-1 and are tied for first place in Division II with Lincoln.
East has only one win on the year, but Pilgrim head coach Tom Flanders was still a little concerned about his team’s energy level coming into the game after it had beaten formerly undefeated Scituate 5-1 on Saturday.
Two minutes in, it was clear there would be no letdown. After a push by East, Pilgrim’s Clare Birney took a free kick from just outside the box on the left and lofted it directly into the net, over East keeper Olivia Tagliaferri, for an immediate 1-0 lead.
“There’s not much to be upset about,” Flanders said. “They’re working hard. I was a little worried that after playing Scituate, playing them really well, that they’d come in flat. I thought there might have been a letdown but we came out and scored in the first minute and a half or so.”
From there, it didn’t take long for the floodgates to open. The Pats dominated and squandered a few chances from point blank range over the next 15 minutes, but made it 2-0 in the 18th.
Kendra Levesque passed a ball through the box from left to right to Hannah Johnson, who sent the ball into the top-left corner of the goal.
“Pilgrim’s got a very strong team, a lot of girls who know how to play,” East head coach Lauren Tomasso said. “You can tell they’ve played together for a long time.”
Ten minutes later, Kendra Tantimonico won the ball on a goal kick and sent it up to Vieira on the left side. She made a move to get past a defender and quickly made it 3-0. Two minutes later, Sophie DeLuca sent a pass to Vieira on the left, and she did the rest, easily scoring to make it 4-0 before the half.
“It’s amazing how she’s around the ball all the time,” Flanders said of Vieira. “She has a tremendous knack. It’s innate with her. She’s there all the time and she’s always a factor. She’s just a tremendous talent.”
East played better in the second half and made a few runs at Pilgrim goalie Hannah Page, with a shot by Meghan Letendre in the final minute of play being the best opportunity, but Pilgrim was still very much in control.
Meanwhile, the Pats added three more goals – one apiece from Levesque, Molly Lynch and Jennifer King. Lynch’s, in particular, was highlight reel-worthy, as Vieira set it up by dribbling all the way to the goal line and then lofting a pass across the box, where Lynch cleanly headed it in.
“This club is getting better and they’re starting to believe that this is the way we’re supposed to play,” Flanders said. “The kids that come off the bench, they’re getting plugged right into the system and we’re not even seeing a drop-off sometimes.”
Vieira added three assists to go with her pair of goals, while Levesque, Tantimonico and Lynch all had an assist as well.
In the back, Birney led a dominant defensive effort, along with Jeriann Evans, Haley Buco, Erin Plowman and DeLuca.
“Clare is the leader of that back four,” Flanders said. “We’re rotating about five through and we don’t miss a beat. As long as she’s back there, she’s the constant.”
In goal, Hannah Page made seven saves for her second shutout of the season.
Pilgrim has passed every test so far this season – including the big win over Scituate on Saturday – but it still has a few more coming up. Today, the Pats take on Lincoln at home at 3:30 p.m. in a battle for the outright division lead. Next week they have two very winnable games against Ponaganset and East Providence before they take on third-place Warwick Vets on Oct. 15.
That game is always a rivalry, but it has added dimensions now. Both teams are near the top of the division, and Flanders previously coached at Vets.
For now though, the Pats are worrying about Lincoln – and staying unbeaten.
“Lincoln is going to be a massive undertaking on Thursday,” Flanders said. “It will probably be a battle of 6-0-1’s. Hopefully we have the same results as we had with Scituate when we were both 4-0-1. I’m hoping we’ve got it together for Thursday.”