Somebody was going to make it two in a row on Thursday when the Warwick Vets girls’ soccer team welcomed Cranston West to town. Both teams had just picked up their first victories of the season on Tuesday and both were eager for another.
The Falcons got it.
The ’Canes came out of the gates slow and fell behind 2-0 in the first half. They rallied to tie the game in the second half, but Natalie Conley scored a late goal to clinch a 3-2 victory for Cranston West.
“We were hoping we’d roll a little bit off the win, but it just wasn’t meant to be today,” said Vets head coach Tom Flanders. “We’re not focusing on the negative. We’re going to just battle. Every day is a new day. Against Mt. Hope, that was our day. Today wasn’t our day.”
The ’Canes had reason to be thinking positive after the Mt. Hope game. Playing in heavy rain, Vets fell behind 1-0 but dominated possession in the second half and eventually broke through on goals by Katie Evans and Lauren Almonte.
“We must have had 10 corner kicks in the first 20 minutes,” Flanders said. “We didn’t capitalize on anything. We get to halftime and we’re down 1-0, basically saying the only luck we have is bad luck. We had to come from behind, and we did.”
The Falcons were also feeling good. After an 0-6 start, they beat Coventry last Tuesday.
And the Falcons were the ones who built on their victory.
Fifteen minutes into Thursday’s game, Nadia White got loose on the right side of the box and hit a shot to the far side, past goalie Katelen Pick and into the net. Just six minutes after that, the Falcons struck again. Destiny Marcello volleyed a pass from the goal-line to the middle of the box where Eleni Grammas kicked it out of the air and into the back of the net.
“We kind of came out a little flat, sort of wondering what was going on,” Flanders said. “We didn’t match their intensity early and they caught us quick.”
For a team that had only scored seven goals all season, a two-goal deficit was a big one, but the ’Canes battled anyway. After dominating possession late in the first half and coming up empty, they broke through in the second. In the 63rd minute, Almonte carried the ball toward the goal on the left side. With a defender on her hip and goalie Kyla Pagliarini charging, Almonte tipped the ball just before Pagliarini could get it, and it rolled into the net.
Less than four minutes later, Emily Almonte took a free kick from 30 yards away and slammed it off the cross bar. It bounced straight down, where Larissa Paolantonio punched it in.
“Both teams did well out there,” Flanders said. “Cranston West wanted it. They played extremely hard. We played very similarly in the second half. We tightened up a little bit, held onto the possession a little bit more, had good decision making. We stuck to our gameplan a little better in the second half.”
Unfortunately for the ’Canes, the comeback trail got tougher.
In the 30th minute, Leanna Ly was fouled in the right corner. She took the free kick and lofted it to the far post, where a scramble ensued. Conley eventually knocked the ball in for the go-ahead goal.
“Natalie had her first goal ever, and it was the winner,” said West head coach Charles Pearson. “She knew enough as a captain on a cross kick to play it like a corner. She snuck up and got the rebound.”
The ’Canes didn’t back down. Sloan Kinney ended up with a good look on a corner kick but defender Lauren Cattani deflected the shot. In the 75th minute, Casey Bennett took a big shot from 30 yards out and Pagliarini didn’t corral the rebound. But with Katie Gregory trying to get a foot on it, Pagliarini managed to grab the ball.
The Falcons held on.
“We played very well today,” Pearson said. “We let down once. Any team that wants to score a win will play their heart out, and we did that today. I’m proud of the girls.”
The loss dropped the ’Canes to 1-7, but they figure to contend again today when they visit Cumberland at 6:30 p.m. The Clippers are 1-5-2.
“Hopefully, Tuesday’s our day against Cumberland,” Flanders said. “We can’t get hung up on negativity. That’s just going to ruin whatever we’re trying to build on.”