Toll Gate struggles, looks to postseason
Coming off one of its best performances of the season last Thursday night against Portsmouth, the Toll Gate girls’ soccer team was looking to carry some momentum into Tuesday’s game with Barrington at Warwick City Park.
Early on, it looked like the Titans had done just that, as they had the best chance of the first five minutes when Abby Ellis’ header hit the post and Karina Santos’ rebound shot was deflected just wide of the goal.
But for the rest of the game, momentum was on the Eagles’ side, and they didn’t waste it. Barrington scored in the seventh minute to go up 1-0 and never looked back from there, using two second-half goals to provide the cushion in a 3-0 victory.
“None of us showed up today,” Toll Gate head coach Lonna Razza said. “We just didn’t show up today. We played a great game against Portsmouth last Thursday night, and we just didn’t have it today. It was the whole team.”
That game against Portsmouth ended in a 0-0 tie, and helped the Titans earn a big point as they tried to stay in the playoff picture. Facing a Portsmouth team that was in fifth in Division I, earning the tie was even bigger.
But it didn’t carry over to Tuesday. Once Toll Gate’s early chance didn’t result in a goal – and Barrington scored shortly afterwards – it was a struggle from there on out.
“It happens to us all the time,” Razza said. “We go down by one goal and you tell them, ‘Keep your heads up. It’s one goal, it’s not a big deal. We can get back in this.’ The air deflates out of the balloon, so to speak. They end up playing like they’re down four or five nothing.”
The loss, as disappointing as it was, didn’t hurt the Titans very much in the standings. They’ve already clinched a playoff spot, as they’re tied for 11th in D-I and the top 12 teams qualify for the postseason. They’re 4-8-1, giving them nine points.
They can finish as high as 10th or as low as 12th depending on the outcome of their regular season finale today against Cumberland.
The Clippers are currently tied with Toll Gate for 11th.
Barrington improved to 5-3-5, and is in eighth place in the division with 15 points.
“We are in the playoffs, but you’d like to get a higher seed going in to it,” Razza said. “I don’t know. I’m at a loss myself. They just seemed kind of tired today.”
Eli Salit scored the first goal for Barrington, as she received a deflected pass just outside the left side of the 18-yard box and curved a shot from right to left into the right side of the net, barely off the fingertips of Toll Gate keeper Amber Francois.
The Titans had one more strong opportunity in the half, as Grace McGrath fired a shot from point blank range in the 22nd minute, but Barrington keeper Emma Gurchiek dove to knock it away.
From there, it was all Barrington. Francois made multiple saves to keep it a one-goal game, and the Titans could very easily have trailed by even more at the break.
After halftime, the Eagles put it on ice. Caitlyn Nolan stole the ball from a Toll Gate defender in the 59th minute, whirled around and fired a high-arching shot from 25 yards out that landed perfectly in the top of the net for a 2-0 lead.
Nine minutes later, Magdalene O’Hayer crossed the ball to Caroline Larisa, who volleyed it out of the air into the net for Barrington’s third goal.
Toll Gate never seriously threatened in the second half except for a shot with time winding down by Emily Fox that sailed just over the net.
The Titans will try to put the total performance in the past.
“We’ll play Cumberland, see if we can build off of this and go from there,” Razza said.
The good news for the Titans is that they’ve played a few of their potential first-round playoff opponents well during the regular season.
The Titans will take on either Bay View, Portsmouth, East Greenwich, Prout or Barrington. They lost 1-0 to East Greenwich, beat Bay View 1-0, tied Portsmouth 0-0, lost to Prout 2-1 and had the rough game against Barrington.
The playoffs are set to begin on Tuesday, Oct. 30.
“Their game against Portsmouth was probably the best 80 minutes of consecutive soccer that they’ve played all season long,” Razza said. “We came out really strong against North Kingstown earlier in the season, kind of lost it in the second half. East Greenwich, Smithfield, them too. Even La Salle, kind of a couple of cheesy goals. We’ll see. Hopefully being seeded down, maybe playing the top team, maybe they’ll come out and play as hard as they did against Portsmouth.”