By ALEX SPONSELLER The Pilgrim girls soccer team had a busy week last week, as it topped visiting Smithfield 3-0 in the Division I semis but then fell 3-0 to La Salle in the state title game in Johnston on Sunday. The Pilgrim offense was one of the most
By ALEX SPONSELLER The Pilgrim girls soccer team had a busy week last week, as it topped visiting Smithfield 3-0 in the Division I semis but then fell 3-0 to La Salle in the state title game in Johnston on Sunday.
The Pilgrim offense was one of the most explosive units in the state this year … but the La Salle defense was the top defensive unit on the other side.
In the battle of two elite forces, defense prevailed as La Salle scored three second-half goals to seal the victory while shutting down the Pilgrim offense.
“It was a big feat trying to get through their defense. They don’t give up goals to really anybody. It was a long afternoon of trying to figure that out, it was a tough challenge. They shot (their first goal) from about 40, 45 yards out that just went under the bar. It was just one of those things. It sparked them. That’s just the way it goes,” said Pilgrim coach Tom Flanders.
In the prior game, it would be the Lady Pats that would score three goals in the second half to roll past Smithfield. Alanna Coffie scored a pair of goals for Pilgrim while Lily Brown added another. Gillian Brown recorded two assists in the victory.
The Pats made the jump up from Division II this fall and didn’t skip a beat, finishing as one of the top Division I clubs in the state. Flanders was proud of the way his girls rose to the occasion, especially in an unusual year that has been impacted by the pandemic.
“The last two years we definitely would have competed in Division I. We didn’t do well the two years prior to our realignment, but we got some players that third year. The kids usually play summer league, play scrimmages, we have these things that we do before the year but this summer it wasn’t there. Our first game this year against Smithfield was their first game together as a team. It was difficult, the starting lineup was changing constantly. It was even more of a feat coming up from DII since we didn’t have that prep time,” said Flanders.
Flanders added: “I think all of us are extremely thankful, if I had to say one word it is thankful. It has been a tough year for a lot of people, we have some girls on our team that have been affected by COVID, between quarantines, their families, it was a lot to overcome for young girls. We lost our goalkeeper due to quarantine, there were just a lot of hurdles for this team to overcome to get to where they were. I was extremely proud of them and grateful to be able to have some sense of normalcy during these difficult times.”
The Pats will now flip the page to 2021 and expect to be right back in the championship hunt with a large core of starters coming back.
“We will be competitive in DI for the next few years, the future is looking bright,” Flanders said. “I am looking forward to the future of Pilgrim soccer. We have to thank the seniors for what they have done and the way they built the program to what it is. Now it will be up to the younger kids to step up and fill some of those roles.”