WESTERLY — After trailing at the half and exchanging the lead in the opening 13 minutes of the second half, the Westerly High girls lacrosse team used a dominant final 12 minutes to pull away for a 16-10 win over Division II rival Chariho on Friday night at Augeri Field.
The Bulldogs (8-0, 8-0 Division II) remain unbeaten this season.
“That score does not tell you that game at all,” Westerly coach Meg Paisley said. “I don't know why our shots were so off at the beginning, but I'm glad we were able to pull it together and play how we normally play. I just wish we did it before the last 12 minutes.”
The Bulldogs were led by four goals from junior Ashley Amato, but they also received a spark off the bench from speedy sophomore Diana Turano. She finished with three goals, including the go-ahead goal in the second half.
Going into the locker room at the half, Westerly trailed Chariho, 6-4, thanks to a stellar performance in goal by junior Megan Bradley, and three goals and an assist from senior Mollie Dyer. Bradley finished with 12 saves, including five on penalty shots and another on a one-on-one breakaway by a Westerly player.
But the Bulldogs' activity throughout the game — especially on the offensive end — seemed to wear the Chargers (3-4, 3-4) down. Dyer was limited to an assist in the second half with more aggressive marking by Westerly, and the Bulldogs had 31 shots on goal.
Chariho coach Britney Godbout attributed the struggles down the stretch to fatigue, and an inability to clear the ball from the defensive end.
“We played an amazing first half on defense, and the second half, the communication kind of went away and there were more gaps,” she said. “I think switching from one type of defense, because we kept going back and forth from winning to tying to losing, I think that was taxing on us as well. I think it was definitely a fatigue issue.”
Westerly knotted the game at 6 on two goals from Amato, with 24:18 and 22:14 left. The first goal was assisted by sophomore Grace Armstrong.
Chariho retook the lead with a lengthy three-minute possession that featured multiple attack feints, but no shots. The Chargers finally scored on a shot by senior Maura Beaudreau, on a pass from Dyer, with 18:41 left.
However, establishing a pattern to come, Westerly scored just 39 seconds later to tie the game, 7-7. Senior Kata Cummings won the draw, and then scored on a shot following a Chariho penalty. Chariho again took the lead with 16:12 remaining, with sophomore Emily St. Lawrence scoring in transition on a pass from junior Layne Hart, but the Bulldogs matched on a crease roll by Armstrong 26 seconds later.
Westerly then scored again, about a minute later with 14:47 left, on a shot by Carly Chretien after a penalty. The Bulldogs momentarily took a 9-8 lead, but Chariho knotted it up with another goal in transition by St. Lawrence, assisted by senior Lindsay Shields.
The Bulldogs controlled the game's last 12 minutes though, with the go-ahead goal scored on an impressive burst of speed by Turano. After a Chariho penalty in the corner of the field behind their own goal, Turano took possession, sprinted completely past two defenders, and buried a shot in the back of the net as she was still running at full speed.
When asked what she was thinking to herself when she had possession, Turano said, “Just go for it. Don't second guess yourself. Just go.”
Paisley said the coaching staff was even surprised by Turano's in-game speed and movement against Chariho.
“She's been subbing in for us [at midfield],” Paisley said. “We know she's fast, but we didn't realize she was that fast heading straight for the goal. She is really fast, and she's little, so she's hard to defend and to stay with.”
Amato added her fourth and final goal with 7:24 left, assisted by senior Macie Woycik, to give Westerly a 10-8 lead. Paisley said the junior has a knack for finding the proper passing lane to get herself shooting space.
“I just watch where the defense is standing, and I make sure that when people drive to the net and my defender slides, I go in and make sure that I keep my space,” Amato said of her positioning.
Westerly scored four more goals in the next three minutes to put the game out of reach.
Cummings picked off a defender's pass for an easy one-on-one goal (5:31) — her third and final of the game — and after winning the ensuing draw, she passed to Turano, who easily ran past defenders for another goal (5:19).
Godbout said that going forward, Chariho had to limit the second and third chances that it was giving up in games.
“Definitely defensive clearing, for sure we need to work on, and other than that, communication,” she said. “That's always been a weakness for us, especially in times of pressure.”
Westerly senior Lauren Dobson scored her second goal (4:56) on a pass from freshman Carly Chretien. She then scored a goal of her own (4:16) on a pass from Armstrong, her second assist.
Trailing 15-9, Chariho scored its last goal with 1:03 left, with St. Lawrence finishing a pass from Beaudreau.
With Dyer faceguarded by Westerly in the second half, St. Lawrence emerged as Chariho's biggest offensive threat, and finished with four goals. Hart and junior Sommer Choiniere also had goals for the Chargers in the first half.
Armstrong ended Westerly's scoring with her second goal of the game with three seconds remaining. Abby White also had an assist in the first half for the Bulldogs.
“We're really good in D-II so far, but we need to make sure we start games off on the right foot,” Amato said. “We picked it up in this game, but just playing full games, we could always use improvement.”