PROVIDENCE – A quick goal by Narragansett freshman Chelsea Sahagian set the tone for the Division III girls’ soccer final Sunday night, as the Mariners scored three times in the first half en route to a 4-1 victory against the Middletown Islanders.
Like every other game in its perfect 19-0 season, Narragansett never trailed and held a 2-0 advantage on Middletown for much of the game.
Sahagian scored on a breakaway 2:55 into the game, to the chagrin of Middletown head coach Dave Kolator.
“We had to play a tight defense,” he said, noting that his team switched to man-to-man marking for the game. “We know them, they rely heavily on breakaways. They’re deadly on breakaways, and two minutes into the game, they got a breakaway and buried the shot.”
Following the first goal at the 14:10 mark, junior forward Carla Porras collided with two Middletown players going after a play, and left with an injured shoulder. She was taken to a local hospital.
The Mariners were momentarily rattled by the loss, with Middletown getting a few shots on goal as Narragansett shuffled their lineup.
However, Narragansett mounted a counterattack several minutes after Porras left, which resulted in a penalty called just outside the box in the 23rd minute. Senior Emily Wright took the free kick, arcing it over the wall and scoring.
Wright said it took the team a few minutes to compose itself after losing Porras.
“It was hard to come back from that, because she’s a central player and she makes things happen,” Wright said. “She’s a goal scorer, so it was important to get everybody back into it and make some action happen, to get our heads back into it and say, ‘We can do this even without Carla.’”
Narragansett head coach Kathryn Mahoney praised the work of Wright, noting that she was a stabilizing force in the back that led to strong midfield and forward play for the entire year.
“It’s one of those things you don’t get credit for,” Mahoney said of Wright’s play. “She’s incredibly composed.”
Narragansett added a third goal at 36:47. A Mariner forward was slide tackled in the box, with the defender getting none of the ball, resulting in a penalty.
Senior Jackie Iannucci said the game quickly got physical between the two teams.
“It was definitely more physical than we wanted it to be,” she said. “We want to possess and play it wide, and keep it our kind of skills game, and they just came in for blood … We could match it, but not to the dirty level that they were playing.”
She added, “They were chipping at us, and obviously they got Carla with a cheap shot.”
Iannucci calmly took the penalty shot after the penalty, burying it in the upper-left corner, giving Narragansett a 3-0 lead it wouldn’t relinquish.
She also had a penalty shot goal against Cranston East, and said she typically takes them from the Mariners.
“There are other people who can do it, and obviously we have a group picked out if we do need to go to penalty kicks, but I’ve been doing it since my freshman or sophomore year,” she said. “I really don’t mind [the pressure]. I had one coach who drilled it into me how to do them: Don’t look up, don’t look at anything, and kick it in the same spot.”
In the second half, Middletown attacked throughout, but were mostly rebuffed thanks to the work of Wright, Iannucci, senior Holly McConnell, junior Samantha Harrington and senior goalkeeper Liz Castro.
Kolator said the positioning of his team left a bit to be desired.
“We weren’t getting [forwards] the ball into the right lanes,” he said. “Our midfielders were either playing back too far, or into the middle too much … In the second half, when we did get the ball on the ground, we were able to get a bit more of an attack forward for ourselves.”
Sahagian also got free for another run at 56:59, and hit the shot for Narragansett’s fourth goal. Middletown’s lone goal came at the end of the game, as senior Elizabeth Durgin hit a penalty kick following a Narragansett penalty.
Kolator said it was disappointing to come to a second finals and lose, but added that he was proud of his team.
“We’ve had two great seasons and we just fell short both times,” he said. “I didn’t think we’d get this far and we did, so it’s a credit to them. They pulled it together and worked hard to get to this point. We just fell a little short this season.”
For her two goals, Sahagian was named the game’s most valuable player. The win caps off a perfect season for the Mariners, and earns them back-to-back Division III titles.
Reflecting on the season, Mahoney said she thought her team could play with any in the state.
“I think they’re one of the better teams in Division II, and could hang in Division I,” she said, noting that the Division III results are lopsided because Division IV was folded into it in 2009. “I think it’s unfortunate that they combined IV [into III].”
Mahoney said that for next year’s team, the key would be replacing the senior leadership of the 2011 squad.
“Off the field, they’re great, great leaders,” she said. “That’s a factor that goes unmentioned, how close the girls are … I absolutely have faith that other girls can step up.”
Both Wright and Iannucci said the win was an incredible experience.
“I had my doubts, so it feels incredible to win this way, especially since it’s my senior year,” Wright said. “It’s incredible, it really is. I really wanted it from the beginning of the season, like every other person on this team did.”
Wright said she is focusing on academics in college, and has applied to Brown University. From past interviews, Iannucci said she isn’t sure if she would look to play Division II or III college soccer, or focus on athletics.
Iannucci said this year surpassed her expectations, and the experience last year.
“It’s even more amazing this time, and being a senior and a captain, I’m so proud of this team,” she said. “Most of these girls, I’ve played with since I was 6.”
She added, “Winning two in a row and with an undefeated season, there is no greater feeling.”
First Second Final Narragansett 3 1 4 Middletown 0 1 1
Time Team Goal / Assist Score 2:55 Narragansett Chelsea Sahagian 1-0 N 23:00 Narragansett Emily Wright 2-0 N 36:47 Narragansett Jackie Iannucci (PK) 3-0 N 56:59 Narragansett Chelsea Sahagian 4-0 N 80:00 Middletown Elizabeth Durgin 4-1 N
Name Grade 2010 Champ Elizabeth M. Castro Senior Yes Emily M. Wright Senior Yes Hailey K. Kisseberth Senior Holly C. McConnell Senior Yes Jackie M. Iannucci Senior Yes Sarah W. Cannon Senior Abby Soscia Junior Yes Carla Porras Junior Yes Chandler P. Lemay Junior Yes Dolci M. Wagner Junior Yes Lauren A. Wade Junior Maggie Salomone Junior Yes Samantha C. Harrington Junior Yes Cat A. Tierney Sophomore Grace B. Castro Sophomore Yes Jaimee V. Barber Sophomore Yes Stephanie A. Marsh Sophomore Alison E. Stone Freshman Ceili E. O'Connell Freshman Chelsea M. Sahagian Freshman Christiana D. Tucker Freshman Sarah M. Lubic Freshman