’Bolts shut out Broncos to increase lead atop D-III standings

Matt Metcalf
Posted 10/8/15

Some may have thought that the Cranston East boys’ soccer team would encounter a dip in success after losing First Team All-Stater Dennis Vazquez following last season.

But those who thought …

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’Bolts shut out Broncos to increase lead atop D-III standings

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Some may have thought that the Cranston East boys’ soccer team would encounter a dip in success after losing First Team All-Stater Dennis Vazquez following last season.

But those who thought that would be sorely mistaken.

The ‘Bolts are currently undefeated with an 8-0-1 record following their 3-0 trumping of second-place Burrillville on Monday afternoon at Cranston Stadium.

The win increased the gap in the standings from one point to four, as East sits atop Division III with 25 points, while the Broncos are stuck at 21.

The ’Bolts started slow on Monday, though, pressing a bit in the first half – something that East head coach Richard Grenier chalked up to nerves due to the importance of the game.

“I just thought we were a little impatient in the first half,” Grenier said. “We understood that, if we won this game, we would open up a four-point lead. We knew that. You can try to tell the kids that it’s only a regular season game, but they knew what was at stake. I definitely thought that there were some butterflies early on.”

The two teams went into halftime scoreless, with the first 40 minutes going by with very few scoring chances on either side.

With the lack of flow, Grenier knew that he had to make some adjustments that would lead to more opportunities, and he did.

“Instead of our forwards being the anchors for the wings, I had my forwards pinch in and then I took my halfbacks and I had them anchor the wings,” Grenier said. “That little difference got us a few through balls in. It has worked a few times for us this year.”

That first through ball came in the 13th minute when Tiago Pacheco led Kevin Donnelly with a pass down the middle of the field. Donnelly outran a Burrillville defender and made no mistake about it, burying the game’s first goal past Broncos’ keeper Ben Lamoureaux.

It only took three minutes for the ’Bolts to strike again.

This time, it was Richmond Miamen who used his speed to get behind the defense, finishing with a left-footed shot to give East a 2-0 lead.

“We’re in great shape and these kids work really hard,” Grenier said of his team’s speed. “We’re not a physical team, we’re a finesse team. That’s the way that I like to play, and these kids have totally bought into it.”

East ran a picturesque play off of a corner kick to record its third and final goal.

Kevin Pantoja lined up to take the corner, but instead of crossing it into traffic, he passed to the top of the box and hit Pacheco, who was lined up near midfield and snuck behind Burrillville’s defense. Pacheco drilled a shot with his left foot through traffic and into the lower left corner to up East’s lead to 3.

The Broncos pressed in search of finding any offense, but the ’Bolts’ defense and keeper Jarod Linne stood tall to secure the shutout.

After making it to the semifinals last fall, this year’s team has bigger goals in mind this time around. And with the way East is playing right now, the sky’s the limit.

“This is by far, in the 45-year history of Cranston East, one of the best starts that they’ve ever been off to,” Grenier said. “We have to stay healthy and stay focused on what our goal is this year. The goal for these kids is to not end the season in the semifinals. They want to take the next step and make it to the finals. Right now, we’re in good position for that.”

The ’Bolts still have some tough games on their schedule, though, particularly in the near future.

They will travel to play Exeter/West Greenwich (4-1-3) today at 3:30 p.m., before taking on Cranston West for the City Cup at Cranston Stadium on Sunday at 2 p.m.

It doesn’t get any easier after that either.

East will play Warwick Vets (2-6), but will then close its season out against Woonsocket (5-2) and Tiverton (5-1-1).

But even with some tough tests left, East has to be the odds-on favorite to earn the top seed. Besides holding a comfortable lead in the standings, the ’Bolts’ goal differential of 43-5 is by far the greatest in Division III.

If East can sustain this play, it should have no problem contending for a title.

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