The top-seeded Pilgrim girls soccer team cruised to a big 5-1 win over visiting North Smithfield in the Division II quarterfinals on Saturday afternoon.
The two clubs battled to a stalemate in the opening minutes of the first half, but Pilgrim would get a spark when its keeper came up with a big save on a North Smithfield penalty kick.
“It was going back and fourth for the first 15 minutes or so but that kind of changed the momentum. It was kind of a wake-up call, telling us that it was time to pick it up and start playing our game. I think from there it hit them that they had to start going at them a little bit more and start being smarter with the ball. We had shots but we kept putting them at the keeper,” said Pilgrim assistant coach Ria Carroll after the win, who was filling in for head coach Tom Flanders.
It was all the Patriots from there, starting with a goal from Alanna Coffie on a breakaway midway through the period. Alexis Vieira would double the Pilgrim lead minutes later to give the Patriots the 2-0 advantage at the break.
McKenna Leahy got things rolling early in the second when she capitalized on a free kick for a score to make it 3-0. Leahy and Lily Brown would add goals later in the period to set the score to 5-1 and wrap up the win.
Carroll was pleased with the team’s adjustments at halftime, and felt that the Patriots were much more aggressive in the final 30 minutes.
“We spoke at halftime about them playing a little too much of the bumble bee style and they had to spread the field and open them up a little bit,” said Carroll. “That’s what a lot of teams try to do against us, they try to contract us and compact. Our strength is playing out and in. We were looking for those diagonal passes across.”
The Patriots also showed off their versatility in the lopsided win, getting five foals from four different players.
“Everyone has a role and everyone is important. They can try to stop one of them but there’s more to come, that’s what makes us a threat. It’s good to have the depth that we have and the amount of players that just play. It’s good to fall back on,” said Carroll.
The Patriots will now move on to face Westerly in the semifinals on Wednesday. Carroll hopes to see her club continue to roll as it has throughout the entire season.
“We’re ready, I think the girls just want to get there,” said Carroll. “They want what they deserve, they’ve worked hard all year so hopefully this momentum will carry them through the next two games.”