Cranston West High girls’ soccer head coach Jeremy Sherer is one tough critic.
It’s because he has such high hopes for his Falcons this season, as they sit at 4-2-1 – unbeaten since dropping their first two matches – and tied for third place out of 17 teams in Division I through games played Monday afternoon.
But, even with a 3-nil win over the Bay View Academy Bengals in Riverside, Sherer was blunt in describing his team’s performance as its worst of the season.
“It just wasn’t one of our prettier games,” Sherer said after the match. “The second half, we started to step up and hold more possession and complete more passes. But, the first half, we were pretty awful.”
Nicole Perreault, Katelyn Blake and Alayna Harvie scored for the Falcons, while Julia Perreault came up with 11 saves in net for yet another shutout. Cranston West has allowed just one goal in its last five matches, a feat even more impressive considering Perreault had never played goalkeeper before this season.
“She’s never played a minute in net before this season,” Sherer said of Julia Perreault, a sophomore. “We converted her and she’s done a really great job. She’s really stepped up for the team.”
Sherer noted the unseasonably warm temperatures – it was around 80 degrees at kickoff – as well as the injury bug as partial reasons for the sluggish performance. Abby Turchetta, one of three captains for the Falcons, is currently dealing with a bone bruise.
There are also the dimensions of the field on campus at Bay View, which is the narrowest field in Division I. It is some eight feet less wide than Cranston West’s home field. Both fields are natural grass.
“I think we played pretty horrible. It was one of the worst games we’ve played,” Sherer said.
“It’s a very hard field to play because it’s so narrow. If we play width a lot, it’s very hard to adjust to this field. If you pinch in five yards, all of a sudden, the field is really narrow. So, I think we had a really hard time adjusting.”
Melissa Murphy had a pair of assists for the Falcons and Abigail Royal notched a single helper.
Nicole Perreault scored in the 26th minute of the first half on a feed from Murphy, the lone tally in the first 40 minutes.
Just five minutes into the second half, the Falcons doubled their lead thanks to the chemistry on a corner kick between Murphy and Blake. Murphy took the kick from the left side of Bay View’s net and aimed high, hoping for a redirection off of Blake’s head. She put her noggin to good use in giving Cranston West a 2-nil lead.
“Melissa usually lines the kick up, and as soon as the ball is in the air I can usually judge if I’m going to get my head on it,” Blake said as she diagnosed the goal. “So, I just back up and then it was a perfect ball right into my head.”
Murphy confirmed she was aiming for Blake’s head.
“I always look for Katie,” she said. “I always see where she is and try to play it right at her head.”
Royal connected with Harvie later in the second half to seal the deal on the win for the Falcons.
Sherer said that his team has had a habit of playing up or down to the level of its competition in the early going this fall, citing a nil-nil draw with first place La Salle Academy as an example of what Cranston West is capable of against the elite teams of the state.
“When we play a high level team that can hold possession, we can go toe-to-toe,” Sherer said. “When we play a team that tries to just kick and run over the top, we tend to play down.”
Not lost for Sherer and the Falcons is the tragic death of Chariho High student Maddie Potts, who was a captain of both the soccer and lacrosse teams in Wood River Junction. Sherer said that several players on Cranston West knew Potts through playing club soccer. Potts died of a brain aneurysm early Sunday morning after collapsing in a match vs. Middletown High while taking a penalty kick on Saturday.
“I don’t think they understand what it is that caused it,” Sherer said. “I’m not sure they ever will. I’m not sure I do. Why do bad things happen to good people?”
The Falcons played at Mount Hope High in Bristol on Tuesday, in an event held after the Herald’s deadline. The team is next in action on Thursday afternoon vs. South Kingstown High at 3:30 p.m.