Falcons eliminate defending champ Johnston

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By RYAN D. MURRAY

The Cranston West Lady Falcons beat the defending champion Johnston Lady Panthers 16-10 during the DIII Girls Lacrosse Quarterfinal at Cranston Stadium.

West sophomore Bella Tavares led the Lady Falcons with five goals and Jolie Rouleau, a senior, added two goals and three assists.

The Lady Falcons also got three goals from senior midfielder Cosette Lee, two goals from junior Mia Gershon, and two goals and an assist from junior Abbi Sampson.

Lady Falcons head coach Bianca Madonna was happy with the teamwork that she saw from her squad throughout the contest.

“First off, they all worked and gave it one-hundred and ten percent.” Madonna said. “And they all came together as a team, which is the number one thing that we stress. And I have to say, they’re all well-rounded athletes and support each other and I think that’s the number one thing to have a championship team.”

“We work together as a team and we all supported each other and that’s how we brought it back in the second half, Tavares added.”

Tavares believes that West has a chance to bring home the title this season.

“I have confidence that we can bring it to the championship and possibly win it this year,” Tavares said.

On the other side, Johnston junior Bianca Robbins and senior Grace Sarah scored four goals each for the Lady Panthers.

“We lost the draw pretty bad in the first half,” Johnston head coach Jay Areson said. “That kind of put us behind. It really didn’t help. But, I told the girls, they were a little more aggressive in the first half and we matched their intensity in the second half, started winning the draws, got more aggressive.”

Areson gave credit to Tavares and the way that West was able to move the ball.

“She was a little feisty,” Areson said. “She did an excellent job. West does an excellent job catching the ball and controlling the ball. So, that hurt us. I thought we kind of extended a little too much on our zone defense. We weren’t packing it in and that’s what you kind of have to do for those girls that can catch really well.”

Johnston started its junior varsity goaltender, Jeweleana Lariviere, because its starter Mikayla Thimas was out with an injury. Lariviere finished the game with 10 saves.

The Lady Falcons won the opening draw and Gershon assisted to Lee, who fired it past Lariviere and gave West a 1-0 lead, just 50 seconds into the contest.

Less than two minutes later, Robbins took the ball the length of the field before firing it past West senior goaltender Sophia Montanaro, knotting the game at 1.

The Lady Panthers struck again 1:16 later when Sarah found the back of the cage and a minute after that, Gabby Sauro, a senior, scored and helped the Panthers’ to a 3-1 advantage.

During a penalty shot, Tavares put a bouncer past Lariviere with 18:25 left in the half and pulled West within 3-2.

A little more than three minutes later, Tavares received an assist from Rouleau and fired it past Lariviere and tied the game at 3.

With 13:59 remaining, Tavares scored after an assist from Lee. Less than two minutes later, Tavares put back her own missed penalty shot and extended the Lady Falcons’ lead to 5-3.

Johnston cut the deficit to 5-4 when Sarah put the biscuit in the basket with 10:42 remaining in the half.

Nonetheless, West answered that with three straight goals and took an 8-4 advantage into halftime. The tallies came from, Lee, Sampson, and Gershon.

Less than five minutes into the second half, Robbins performed a 360 spin-move before firing a shot past Montanaro, which cut the Lady Panthers deficit to three.

Tavares had two chances to respond after that, but both of her shots ricocheted off of the goal post before Robbins lit the lamp down the other end and inched Johnston closer at 8-6.

Johnston won the ensuing draw and Sarah took it directly into the West zone and fired it past Lariviere and pulled the Lady Panthers within 8-7.

With 13:28 to play, Johnston knotted the game at 8 when Sarah scored during a penalty shot.

A minute and a half later, Robbins spun in front and rocketed a shot into the cage and gave the Lady Panthers a 9-8 advantage.

But, two minutes later, West tied it at 9 when Rouleau sprinted in front and sniped a shot into the cage.

Then, West’s Tavares found Rouleau for a goal with 8:31 remaining and put the Lady Falcons up 10-9. The Lady Falcons weren’t done there, though. West got six more goals and created a 16-9 cushion. The goals came from, Lee, Gershon, Rouleau, Sampson, Tavares and junior Lexie Hammond. 

During the final two minutes, Johnston got a goal from Sarah, which pulled the Lady Panthers within 16-10.

With the loss, the defending champion Lady Panthers were eliminated from the postseason.

“Overall, it was a good season that we had this year,” Areson said. “I’m proud of the way that the girls played.”

The Lady Falcons moved on to the semifinal round where they played at Rogers on Wednesday. The score was unavailable at press time.

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