The Cranston East Thunderbolts’ boys’ soccer squad edged out the Cranston West Falcons, 2-1, on Sunday afternoon during the City Cup at Cranston Stadium. Senior forward Richmond Miamen won it for the ’Bolts when he stole the ball from a West player before firing it into the net while in the middle of defenders.
East had a shot opportunity early when senior midfielder Ayodeji George passed across to Kevin Justiniano, but his shot was turned away by the West defense.
Nonetheless, East took a 1-0 lead at 32:16 of the first half when the state’s leading scorer, sophomore Kerin Murillo, fired past West goalkeeper Bryce Antoch from inside the 20. It was the midfielders’ 15th goal of the season to go along with his 13 assists.
“He’s got tremendous skill, but more than that, he’s got great vision,” East head coach Richard Grenier said. “So, if they’re going to double and triple team him, he’s going to make sure that there’s a nice little pass in there.”
With about 20 minutes to play in the first half, East’s Miamen passed to Nathaniel Hardy, and he unleashed a bullet, but West junior Ben Gallo came out of thin air and blocked it with his foot, before Antoch came over to scoop it up and boot it away.
“He’s one of our best center backs,” West head coach Martin Yarumian said of Gallo. “He’s our captain. He’s somebody that works hard every game. He’s hurt, he plays through it. He’s phenomenal. So, I’m not surprised he made that play.”
A little over six minutes into the second frame, Miamen drove to the net, but Antoch came out of the net and snagged it away before the senior could get off a shot.
With 21:20 to play, West had a chance on a free kick, but it was denied by a diving Gio Canales, the ’Bolts goalkeeper. Canales stopped four shots from Aaron Ly after that and another from Michael Ferraro.
However, with 2:50 to play, West was able to tie the game when Ly assisted ahead to Ricardo Foster, who ran through it and knocked it into the back of the net to tie the match at 1.
It would go for naught, though, because with a minute left to play, Miamen came up with a steal before rocketing it past Antoch to give the ’Bolts the game-winning goal.
“He just did a great job, stole the ball and he just went through everybody and scored the game-winner,” Grenier said. “So, I give him a lot of credit.”
Yarumian was content with his team’s effort throughout the game.
“It was an unbelievable effort,” Yarumian said. “We could have quit many times just because it wasn’t going our way. We missed a lot of chances that we wanted to bury, and that can get discouraging over 80 minutes after they scored early, but in the end we fought, we put the ball in the box and we made a play. Unfortunately, we didn’t seal the deal and they scored a late one, but great effort, great energy from these guys and they deserved more.”
East outshot West, 19-13, in the game. Canales had 10 saves for East, while Antoch had nine for West.
The ’Bolts improve to 11-0-1 and remain in first place in Division III, while West falls to 4-4-2.
Despite the win, Grenier was a little upset because he didn’t feel that his team played a full 80 minutes.
“Second half, after about 10 or 15 minutes, I was very disappointed because we had carried the game up to that point and then I just felt that we played too defensively instead of playing the game,” Grenier said. “If you’re going to play defensively, you’re going to do that with under 10 minutes to go in the game. So, I was disappointed in that and then lucky for us, a senior came through to get that second goal.”
“But, we have a very good team,” Grenier added. “When we play for 80 minutes, it doesn’t matter if it’s Division II or Division III teams, we can play with everybody.”