Monday night, just before the start of a challenging stretch, the Toll Gate boys’ lacrosse team had the best of both worlds. The Titans got a reminder of the improvements they need to make, but they also got a win, surviving a scare from North Providence for a 7-4 victory.
The Cougars had tied the game midway through the third quarter, but the Titans out-scored them 4-1 the rest of the way to improve to 5-1 on the season.
“Unfortunately, it took us kind of waking up to open it up a little bit more,” Vadney said. “But we showed a little bit better lacrosse. It was a good response.”
The difficult stretch began the next day, and it didn’t go well for the Titans. They lost 10-8 to Coventry, who’s now tied for second place. The Oakers’ Tristan Carlton lit them up for nine goals.
The Titans also have cross-town rival Warwick Vets and second-place Tiverton/Rogers on the upcoming agenda.
“We’ve got Coventry, Warwick Vets in a rivalry game that’s always tough, then we have Tiverton,” Vadney said. “It’s going to be another brutal week.”
From that perspective, Monday’s victory was an important one. North Providence came in with a 3-4 record, and in a tightly-packed division, a team like Toll Gate needs to beat a team like the Cougars.
The second-half response secured it.
The Cougars scored two goals in less than two minutes midway through the third quarter to tie the game at 3-3. They also had a man-advantage after the second of those goals.
But on North Providence’s next possession, Toll Gate forced a turnover and controlled the ball for the rest of the penalty time. When it expired, the Titans got a goal from Will Patenaude to regain the lead.
Later in the quarter, the Titans got a goal from Andrew Zelano, who cut from behind the net and took a perfect pass from Patenaude. Toll Gate then won the ensuing draw and set up a goal for Jack Sullivan as the lead grew to three.
The Titans got a goal from Anthony Ottone in the fourth quarter for even more breathing room. The defense led by Nick Brown, Dave Stachurski and Jake Stachurski bottled up North Providence until a goal at the one-minute mark. Goalie Chase Uglialoro, making his first start, also played well.
“Chase did pretty well,” Vadney said. “Our regular goalie (Jackson Burgos) had a work commitment, but Chase stepped up. Not bad for a former catcher. He came up and played a nice game. He had a couple of nice, good saves.”
The Titans showcased a balanced attack at the offensive end, getting two goals from Sullivan and one each from Zach Bromage, Jesse Butler, Patenaude, Zelano and Ottone.
That was a nice change after the Titans were held scoreless in the first quarter.
“It seems like the last few games, guys just don’t know when they’re open,” Vadney said. “We’ve had to tell them, ‘If you get the ball, your hands are free and you can see the goalie’s eyes, you’re close enough to shoot.’ I think that kind of set in after that first quarter. You see a few more shots, you see guys who don’t normally score goals scoring goals.”
The win continued a strong season for the Titans, who were unbeaten until a loss to Cranston West last week. Included in the hot start were victories over three-time defending champ Smithfield and playoff contender Lincoln.
“That was a great week,” Vadney said. “It was really nice to put a W up against Smithfield.”
The Titans are hoping for a few more big wins as they hit a jam-packed second half of the season. Beginning with Thursday’s game against Warwick Vets, Toll Gate’s final six games will come in an 11-day span.
Thursday’s game is set for 3:30 p.m. at Toll Gate. The game is part of a Lime Out, with proceeds going to the HEADstrong foundation.