Crosstown rivals Pilgrim and Toll Gate joined forces on Saturday and took on Cranston East and West during the Lacrosse Border/Charity Cup at Cranston Stadium. Tickets were $5 at the gate and the proceeds went to the Gianna Cirella Memorial Fund.
The Charity Cup replaces Cranston’s City Cup and will be played annually.
“It was a phenomenal experience,” Toll Gate varsity girls lax head coach Jim Areson said. “I am really thankful to Cranston’s Athletic Director Mike Traficante, for organizing this. It was a great experience. I really enjoyed having both teams together. It was fun.”
There were four games played in total with the boys and girls junior varsity and varsity programs.
The girls varsity game was thrilling back-and-forth battle where Cranston skimmed past Warwick 14-13 during a three-minute sudden-death overtime period after East sophomore Savana Lavimodiere finished with the game-winner forty-eight seconds in.
The Game MVP Awards went to West junior Isabella Tavares, who scored six goals and Pilgrim junior Anna D’Angelo, who recorded five scores.
While Pilgrim and Toll Gate don’t normally team up, the players jelled quickly once they got on the field with each other.
“It was very clean,” Areson said. “I thought the ball movement was good. It’s kind of crazy when you think about it. That was the first time a lot of them have played together and it was seamless how well they played, how well they moved.”
“The intensity was great,” Areson said. “I was amazed how quite a few of the goals had an assist. So, that just tells you that they were really sharing the ball.”
Neither Pilgrim nor Toll Gate’s goaltender were available for the action, so Cranston lent East junior varsity goaltender Marissa North and she didn’t disappoint. North finished the game with 12 saves.
“She played amazing,” Pilgrim head coach Jessica McCaughey said. “She did awesome. I was blown away by her. She did so well. I was so impressed.”
Splitting time in net for Cranston was West starter Caitlyn Mariano and East starter Bernadette Linsangan.
Warwick took a 1-0 advantage, 35 seconds into the contest when Alyssa Giguere, a Pilgrim junior, fired a shot into the back of the cage.
Fourteen seconds later, Warwick added to its lead when Pats senior Alyssa Peixinho, rifled a shot past Mariano and upped the Warwick margin to 2-0.
Five minutes later, Cranston pulled within one at 2-1 when Abbi Sampson spun and dished to fellow West senior Lexie Hammond, who lit the lamp. Sampson totaled three assists on the day.
With 12:31 remaining in the half, Cranston evened the score at 2 when Tavares registered a wraparound tally.
Nine seconds after that, Cranston drew a 3-2 advantage when Tavares one-bounced a shot past North while on the doorstep.
Warwick deadlocked the game at 3 with 10:54 left after Pilgrim senior Lila Giguere rifled a free position shot into the cage.
A minute later, East sophomore Abbi Cahill assisted in front to West’s Sophia Estrella for a goal, and that put Cranston up, 4-3.
With 5:59 remaining in the first frame, Cahill scored one of her own, and that extended the Cranston cushion to 5-3.
Then with 4:16 left, D’Angelo earned a tally during a free position and got Warwick within one.
Cahill answered again for Cranston and restored their lead to two, at 6-4.
Warwick cut the deficit to 6-5 with 1:12 remaining in the half when Peixinho socked a shot past Mariano.
Then, with 31 seconds left, Warwick deadlocked the game at 6 when D’Angelo raced to the cage and ripped a shot past the keeper.
Nonetheless, with 18.3 seconds remaining, Tavares accepted a pass from Sampson and sprinted to the cage before blasting a shot past North, and giving Cranston a 7-6 lead, which they brought into the break.
Fifteen seconds into the second frame, Cranston extended its advantage to 8-6, when Tavares put a leaping shot past North.
A minute and forty-one seconds later, Alyssa Giguere pulled the Pats within 8-7 when she ripped a bullet past Linsangan.
Then, with 22:26 remaining, Cranston took a 9-7 lead after Tavares lit the lamp.
A minute and nine seconds after that, Warwick got a goal from Nicole Proccaccini and pulled within 9-8.
Then, with 18 minutes remaining, Warwick tied the game at 9 when D’Angelo recorded back-to -back goals, which put Warwick on top 10-9.
Forty seconds after that, Tavares scored for Cranston during a free position and knotted the score at 10.
Next, Lila Giguere put Warwick up 11-10 with 13:01 left.
Five minutes after that Cranston’s Allie Notarianni raced down and snuck the ball past North and knotted the game at 11.
Warwick took a 12-11 edge with 5:59 remaining in regulation when D’Angelo lit the lamp after an inbound pass.
But 53 seconds later, Savana Lavimodiere scored during a free position and evened the score at 12.
Lavimodiere struck again fifty-nine seconds after that, and gave Cranston a 13-12 advantage, following an assist from Tavares.
Then, with 2:34 on the clock, Warwick’s Procaccini found the back of the cage for her second score, and knotted the game at 13, forcing overtime.
Nonetheless, 48 seconds in, Lavimodiere rifled a shot past North and gave Cranston the 14-13 victory.
When it was all said and done, Pilgrim’s McCaughey felt it was a rewarding experience for everyone involved.
“Honestly, I thought it was very cool,” McCaughey said. “Obviously, my team’s very first reaction when we tell them we’re going to do the cup with Toll Gate is like ‘oh, but we’re rivals’. And then, when they realized it was for Gianna Cirella and stuff, I think it kind of changed everyone’s mindset a little bit.”
“And I think overall, it makes everyone realize that at the end of the day, we’re all just people here for the same reason, to play lacrosse or to improve as athletes and as people,” McCaughey continued. “But when you do something like that, that’s for something that’s much bigger than all of us, I think everyone was really excited to do it. And playing with Toll Gate and being able to come together with a different group of girls and still do really well, I think it was exciting for everyone and it was for a really good cause.”
According to East head coach Howard Chun and West head coach Bianca Madonna, next year Cranston will pick a charity to donate the game’s ticket sales toward.