The Cranston East boys’ soccer team breezed past Warwick Vets 4-0 in Friday’s senior day matchup at Cranston Stadium to keep at least a share of first place atop the Division III …
The Cranston East boys’ soccer team breezed past Warwick Vets 4-0 in Friday’s senior day matchup at Cranston Stadium to keep at least a share of first place atop the Division III standings.
The ’Canes (3-7-1) hung with the ’Bolts for the first 30 minutes of the game before they tacked on three goals in four minutes before the half to build a commanding lead they would not let go.
East dominated play in large part due to its 12 seniors, who have played together for three years and help keep the program more than competitive after the departure of Dennis Vasquez.
“We lost a great, great kid in Dennis Vasquez and I think some of the supporters thought this may be a rebuilding year, but my son [assistant coach Richard Grenier] and I, we knew it wouldn’t be a rebuilding year,” East head coach Richard Grenier Sr., said. “A lot of these kids have been with me for three years and you can just see it on the field the way the skill is.”
Despite the scoreless tie through much of the first half, East had more opportunities. Senior forward Kevin Donnelly tried to beat Vets goalkeeper Ryan Costa, but he made a leg save to prevent the goal.
Sophomore Richmond Miamen, senior Kevin Pantoja and Donnelly each had chances, but Costa proved to be strong in net against the attack. Senior Jimmy Vang also showed off some impressive dribbling skills to elude Vets’ defenders on one play, but couldn’t pull the trigger.
“Costa is a strong, strong goalkeeper,” Vets head coach Mike Kenney said. “He’s kept us in a lot of games, a lot of these scores could have been worse. These kids are giving us everything they can give us.”
Costa was helped by the fearsome defense of senior Cameron Skuce, who was taking shots off his body well after the game was out of hand.
“Cameron’s been the glue back there,” Kenney said. “He’s played a bunch of different positions for us. He’s a great athlete.”
Despite Costa and Skuce’s best efforts, though, Vets’ offense couldn’t gain much momentum.
The two best chances for the ’Canes came off the foot of senior Josiah Enos, described by Kenney as the team’s “engine.” His first attempt went high above the right post. Less than a minute later, he put a shot off the chest of goalkeeper Jarod Linne, who fell on the ball.
About 10 minutes before the halftime whistle, East struck with a flurry of punches.
Senior Tiago Pacheco connected on a through pass to Miamen in the middle, who split defenders and put his shot past Costa for the game’s first score.
East (9-1-3) was set up with a corner less than two minutes later and made the most of it. Pacheco put a shot off the post, but the rebound came out to Donnelly who trickled it past Costa to double the ’Bolts’ lead.
Pacheco would be involved in the third goal as well. He took the ball to near the top of the box and passed it left to his sophomore defender Gabriel Sotelo. Sotelo chipped the ball high, over the head of a frozen Costa and into the net to pull East ahead 3-0.
To make matters worse for the ’Canes, they lost sophomore sweeper Benjamin Hunt to what appeared to be a leg injury late in the first half.
After the senior day festivities at halftime, Vets tried to chip away at its three-goal deficit against an East team that had, to that point, allowed six scores all season. Its best chance early came off the leg of junior Daniel Lobato, who put a shot just left of the net out of bounds.
Grenier, Sr., credited multiple members of the defense for their consistently strong play, including senior Keith McAteer and sophomore Pedro Saravia, but singled out senior Patrick Finucane as the sparkplug.
“[The defense] starts with Pat Finucane,” Grenier Sr., said. “He is a tremendous sweeper. He ranks right up there with a couple of All-Staters when I coached at Cranston West in the ‘90s. His instincts, his play to the ball, he can go to his right, go to his left.”
East’s seniors could be found all over the score sheet, but it was the young Miamen who had the multi-goal performance. His second of the day, on a pass from Sotelo eight minutes into the half, put East up 4-0 and effectively iced the win.
“Richmond is playing fantastic,” Grenier Sr., said. “He still has to work on the right foot, he is so left-footed, but we already have [sophomore defender] Ayo[deji George] talking next summer with what they’re going to do working out. Richmond’s been a real good piece to the puzzle this year.”
East will look to stay undefeated and pursue its first division title in more than 40 years over the course of its final two regular season contests. The ’Bolts traveled to Woonsocket (7-3-2) on Monday, where they suffered their first loss of the season 2-1. Their final regular season contest will be next Tuesday at Tiverton (5-4-2). East is 5-1-1 on the road this season.
“We said all year that if we were gonna contend, and the goal wasn’t to finish first, our goal is always finish in the top 3,” Grenier Sr. said. “You gotta stay injury-free, you gotta hope to get a little luck. The ball can bounce, except at [Cranston] stadium, the ball can bounce very weirdly on grass, and things have worked well for us. I told the kids if you want to contend you’ve got to be road warriors and we’ve had a very good road season.”