By MICHAEL LETENDRE
BRISTOL – The recent Bristol Central/Bristol Eastern girls soccer game from Muzzy Field in Bristol on Thursday, Septe. 29 was certainly an entertaining, back-and-forth affair.
And when the Lancers rolled out a 2-1 win over the Rams, it was really all about the defensive effort by both team.
Central keeper Aubrey Kelley was a game-stopper all night while Eastern goalie, sophomore Hanna Richards, made big play after big play.
“Hannah kept us in the game all day,” said Redman. “She played real solid back there. I can’t say enough. She played well.”
Both team’s defenses were outstanding with the Hamel girls from Central (Brianna and Meghan) and Miya Laprise and Emily Rivoira from Eastern nearly stopping the respective offenses cold that night.
But in the end, it was too much Miya Croce and too much Leah Policarpio for the Rams to contend with.
And frankly, the Rams made precious few mistakes defensively against the Lancers expect for the briefest of periods.
That’s when the Lancers attacked.
“It’s tough in soccer,” said Redman. “You can play seventy-eight minutes of phenomenal defense against a phenomenal player but then she gets loose one time and in soccer, one goal, two goals, it makes a big different.”
“I tip my cap to those kids [at Central]. They played really hard but we capitalized on our chances that we had.”
And with 31:53 to play, it was a great feed from Croce to a charging Policarpio that generated the game-winning goal.
“Coming into this game, I was really, really nervous,” said Policarpio. “And I kept freaking out but once I got on the field, it sort of just felt like a regular game. I knew I had to pay my hardest to beat [Central].”
Those girls from the school on King Street – along with their counterparts from the institution up on the hill – were ready for battle and, bluntly, it was one of the best city series games in quite some time.
“It’s Eastern-Central,” said Redman. “You don’t have to say much to get the kids fired up for this one. It’s the [game] before where we laid an egg and we were flat that I get frustrated by. It’s the [game] after you worry about.”
There wasn’t any letdown that Redman was concerned about as the Lancers snuck by Rocky Hill 2-1 in overtime and continued the Lancers recent winning streak.
But games against Simsbury, Newington and a rematch against Central to end the season isn’t any kind of picnic for Eastern.
“You have to reboot for the second half of the season,” said Redman. “Our schedule doesn’t get any easier. So, we enjoy it today, maybe for another day, and then you get ready for next Tuesday.”
And the Rams were very close to tying the event up against Eastern on several occasions as the offense, with players such as sophomore Adalia Malick, taking shot after shot against Richards in the Eastern goal, and that fine line between losing and winning wasn’t so fine in a very heated affair.
“I think any time you bring the two teams together, records and everything else, it doesn’t matter,” said Central coach Ginny Godbout. “We come in and I always think it’s a very physical game.”
Malick showed flashes last season of becoming a standout player just as a freshman.
Olivia Savino showed toughness, Ashley McDonald scored a goal in the game and almost added another, and athletes such as Ava Gorneault and even Alyson Policarpio put the Eastern goalie under direct fire the entire evening.
“Our girls responded very well to it,” said Godbout. “They really rose to the occasion and rose to the challenge. We have a lot of young girls, a lot of girls that don’t necessarily have a lot of varsity experience so I’m really proud of what they did.”
“Obviously, I wish [the score] went our way.”
Maybe the result did not go in the Rams favor this time around but the talent is there and the rematch should be just as epic between the schools.
Until then, it’s a one game at a time method for Central and the Rams hoped to have built up just enough momentum to take the city series showdown.