CRANSTON — Chariho High boys soccer coach Les Ahern blasted his team at halftime of Sunday's Division II title game.

The Chargers were down a goal to North Smithfield, but it was more the team's style of play that had him concerned.

Chariho had few passing combinations, too many balls without a purpose and too many of them in the air.

"We let them know they weren't playing Chariho soccer. We were very straight about it," Ahern said. "We looked them in the eye and told them that is not your team by what you are representing on the field."

Chariho responded — Brendan Allamby tied it late in the second half — and ultimately prevailed against the Northmen, 2-1, with a dramatic goal in the second overtime period to claim the D-II title at Cranston Stadium.

The sequence that led to the winning score started when Allamby received a ball near the left sideline just a few yards from the end line. He promptly crossed it near the 6-yard mark in front of the goal, where Chris Niziolek was making a run down the middle of the field.

"I just got a perfect ball from Brendan and I just had to finish it and we took it home," Niziolek said. "Our coaches gave us a pep talk at halftime, which we needed, and they just said to get back to our style of play and that's exactly what we did. We played with quick ball movement and played with heart and energy."

Niziolek's goal, his seventh of the season, came with 1:38 left in the second five-minute overtime period. It came a day after the Chariho girls team had also claimed the D-II title on the same field in penalty kicks after tying the game with 1:02 left in regulation.

Chariho managed just two shots, only one of them on goal in the first half. But the second half was much different — the Charges had eight shots, four of them on target.

Midfielders Seth Dube and Richard Lambert played with more poise and skill, helping to create quality chances for the Chargers.

Chariho had a corner kick at the 29:30 mark that appeared to result in a goal, but it was waved off when the Chargers were called for a foul.

A shot by Dube with 21:28 left sailed just over the crossbar. Another by Ethan Knowles a minute later actually hit the crossbar.

Chariho was applying the pressure.

"We didn't capitalize on some of our corners, but creating that opportunity was great because it put a lot of pressure on them," Ahern said. "It broke them down a little bit and maybe broke down their confidence a little bit."

Despite the opportunities, it appeared the Chargers would not break through with the tying goal as less than 10 minutes remained in the contest.

But Jay Nilsson and Allamby made sure that didn't happen.

Nilsson had possession of the ball about 25 yards from goal on the left side. He let loose with a hard shot that North Smithfield keeper Sam Beauchemin did well to block. It was an absolute bullet.

But Allamby, making a classic back-post run from the right side, hammered home the rebound to tie the game with 8:45 left in regulation.

"Jason had a great shot and [Beauchemin] couldn't catch it," Allamby said. "I was there at the right spot. That's where I'm supposed to be, doing my job. It was the best feeling in the world."

Nillson said the improved play in the second half paid dividends.

"We played the ball on the ground more and we just didn't waste the ball and send balls for no reason. We had a purpose to each ball," Nilsson said. "I had faith in us. I knew at some point we would do it. It took a miracle, but we did it."

Nilsson finished the season with 18 goals and four assists. It was Allamby's fifth goal and his assist on the winning goal was his team-leading 11th of the season.

Defender Williams Edmunds made a nice tackle on a North Smithfield opportunity in the second half. He also just beat Aidan Bienvenue, who scored North Smithfield's goal in the first half, to a through ball in the second half clearing it away.

After a loss to Mt. Hope on Sept. 24, the Chargers were 3-4-1. They went 10-0-2 the rest of the way to finish 13-4-3. Chariho outscored its opponents, 38-10, in the final 12 games of the season.

"We just work together. We respect each other," Allamby said. "We work the ball. The first half, it was not there. We were just kicking it. I think maybe it was the nerves, butterflies being in the championship. But in the second half we were there."

It was another tough loss for No. 3 North Smithfield (14-2-4) and coach Eric Korytkowski, who played soccer and basketball at Westerly High. The Northmen also lost the 2018 and 2019 title games in overtime. The last five Division II titles have been decided in overtime.

"We covered that back-post run all day, except that one time," Korytkowski said of the tying goal.

No. 5 Chariho beat No. 4 Smithfield and No. 1 Lincoln to reach the title game. In three postseason games, the Chargers outscored their opponents, 8-1.

"We assessed what was broken earlier in the season," Ahern said. "We started with the defense and fixed that early. Then we started getting good combinations and crosses. Then we started winning."

Chariho has now won four boys soccer titles. The Chargers won the Division I-B crown in 1994, the Division II title in 1995 and the Division I championship in 2009.

"We own D-II soccer," Allamby said, referring to the girls and boys championships. "It's a great feeling."

Recommended for you

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.