Pilgrim starts fast, runs over vets
Three first-half goals pace Pats in 4-1 win
The Pilgrim boys’ soccer team wasn’t happy with the 2-2 draw it came away with on September 9, the first time it played Vets this season.
It showed on Tuesday, when the Pats took out that frustration on the ’Canes, dominating the second match-up between the two teams en route to a 4-0 victory.
“They weren’t too happy with the draw the last time,” Pilgrim head coach Bill Carroll said. “They thought they should have gotten the win last time. You never know what’s going to come with this team. If the right team shows up, they can play against anyone.”
The first time the two teams played, Pilgrim controlled play but had a few careless mistakes that led to Vets goals. On Tuesday, the Pats kept those mistakes to a minimum, as the ’Canes didn’t get a realistic shot on goal the entire game.
“I asked our goalies if anyone made a save and no, they didn’t,” Carroll said. “They didn’t make a save. We pretty much dominated.”
Pilgrim took command right from the opening whistle, as it kept the ball in the Vets end off the start and eventually scored in the third minute.
On a free kick from just inside midfield, Phil Tantimonico struck a ball into the box, and Vets keeper Mike Riccitelli left the net to try to snare it out of the air. Instead, Pilgrim’s Luis Pimental got there first and headed it past the drawn-out Riccitelli to give the Pats a 1-0 lead.
“We came out flat,” Vets head coach Mike Kenney said. “We started weak, then we tried to climb out.”
Unfortunately for the ’Canes, they only dug themselves deeper into a hole.
Pilgrim nearly added to its lead in the ninth minute, when Pimental stole the ball in the box but fired a shot just over the crossbar.
Then, in the 12th minute, Vets tried to get something going when Nikone Soupharath took a cross in the box on the right side. As quickly as he possessed the ball, though, it was taken away by a Pats defender, and suddenly Pilgrim was on the move again.
On the counter-attack, Pimental carried the ball to 25 yards out, then slipped a short, easy pass to his left that connected with a sprinting Tantimonico. Tantimonico’s shot was blocked by Riccitelli, who came sliding out of the goal, but the rebound went right back to Tantimonico’s foot, and he knocked it in to put Pilgrim up 2-0.
“The kids are working,” Kenney said. “We’re just trying to get something going. It’s just a struggle. Every game is a struggle.”
In the 30th minute, the Pats struck for the third time in the half. Pimental received the ball well outside the 18 but was not pressured. Seeing the space he had, he wound up and ripped a shot into the top-right corner of the goal for his second goal of the half, keeping Pilgrim firmly in control.
It was another goal that happened due to the Pats’ balanced passing attack, which was led by Pimental and fellow forward Dan LaPlante, as well as Tantimonico and Devon Crespin in the middle and Travis Cherry and Austin DeSantis out wide.
“Devon and Phil controlled the middle and Dan and Luis were doing good runs up front,” Carroll said. “The two outsides, Austin and Travis did well.”
In the second half, not much changed. The ’Canes slotted Travis Babcock in goal and he had some success, but Pilgrim was relentless.
In fact, the Pats controlled the ball so much that just allowing four goals was a testament to Vets’ defense – as well as Babcock and Riccitelli – which turned away a number of other opportunities.
Will Hay stopped chance after chance from his spot at sweeper, and he got help from Cody Sullivan, Brandon Gemmell and Kyle Givens.
“We can do it, it’s just a matter of putting it together for 80 minutes,” Kenney said.
Still, Pilgrim did get on the board after dominating for the entire half. In the 79th minute, Crespin played a ball to the goal line and LaPlante crossed it in front of the net to the back post. David Saran was there to kick it out of mid-air and into the goal.
“We needed to put it out of sight,” Carroll said. “The main thing when the second half started was just to focus.”
The victory was Pilgrim’s second in three games after it hadn’t picked up a single win in its first eight. The Pats are now 2-5-4 and, with eight points, are tied for seventh place in Division II-South.
Vets fell to 0-10-1.
Both teams are back in action today. The Pats have an important game against 4-5-1 Coventry, which sits above them in the standings, on the road at 3:30 p.m. Vets also plays at 3:30, when it hosts second-place East Greenwich.