Saints top Titans for DIII title

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The No. 3 seeded Toll Gate Titans suffered a 1-0 loss at the hands of the No. 1 seeded St. Raphael Academy Saints during the Boys Soccer Division III Championship on Sunday night at Cranston Stadium.

“I thought we played the game of the season today,” Toll Gate head coach Mike Kenney said. “The kids did everything that we needed them to do except for score a goal. We played a decent team and it was tooth and nail. I thought we dominated the most in play, we just couldn’t crack the goal line. I think our kids gave it everything they had. I’m extremely proud of them. This is an all-time team, and I mean team. No superstars, just a bunch of guys that just got the job done and we came up a little short today. I’m disappointed for them. I think they earned it. They deserved it, but we just came up a little short.”

It was the third season in a row that the Saints were in the title tilt, except this year, St. Rays came out on top.

Senior forward Spencer Hsu scored during the 15th minute when he fired a shot into the box. It deflected off the back of Titans sweeper Josh Costello and then across the goal line, and that was all that the Saints would need.

St. Rays required just the one goal because their goalkeeper Emiliano Munguia, a senior, had the game of his life. Munguia stopped 13 shots, three of which were so spectacular, they should have been sent in to ESPN for SportsCenter’s “Top 10 Plays” segment.

The last stop came during a penalty shot when Toll Gate senior Dylan Barlow fired right from 16 yards out with an attempt.

“I went to their semifinal game and they had a similar situation,” Munguia said. “The person who took it, Dylan, he took a penalty down the same way. So, I knew that he was going to go down to the right.”

One of Toll Gate’s chances came when Titans senior defenseman Caden Haley sent a ball toward the Saints goal. Munguia and Toll Gate’s Josh Paiva battled for it, both leaping simultaneously, and Munguia won the battle when he took it away.

During the 55th minute, Munguia made another great save after Paiva sent a cross into the box and then James Caruso had a header blocked from point-blank range.

Toll Gate had another close call in the 76th minute when Papa Ndoye blasted a corner kick in front, but Matt Roache misfired with a header attempt that sent the ball in the opposite direction. Toll Gate would immediately get the rebound, but when Casey Darcy fired it back towards the goal, a race ensued between the Saints Antoine Serena Jr. and Toll Gate’s Josh Costello.

Serena won that chase and knocked it away just before it could cross the goal line.

After the game, Toll Gate’s Haley could be seen running up to and congratulating the Saints goalkeeper on his phenomenal day in humble fashion.

“I’ve known him for a while,” Haley said. “He’s a fantastic goalie back there. He really showed up for that last shot right there. So, nothing but respect for him.”

And as Haley looks back on his high school career, he’ll have nothing but fond thoughts.

“But I’m proud of all of our guys,” Haley continued. “We had a fantastic season. There’s no disappointment after this. We played hard. They’re a fantastic team. We had all the chances in the world, it just didn’t go our way tonight. But other than that, I love all of them, and they did a fantastic job. So, I couldn’t be more proud. It was a fantastic season.”

“I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else,” Haley said. “I love this high school. I love every sport here. I love all the fans. We have a great group of kids over there. It’s been like home for me these last four years. So, it’s the way to go out. We did really well.”

Toll Gate sophomore keeper Jayden Pereira ended the day with nine stops.

St. Rays compiled 11 shots on the day while Toll Gate finished with 16.

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