JOHNSTON — For Chariho High’s Bella Pezzullo, it was so very simple — just keep the ball low and strike it hard.
Pezzullo did both in impressive fashion, scoring on a direct kick with 3:09 left in the second five-minute overtime period to lift the Chargers past North Smithfield, 2-1, in the Division II girls soccer semifinals Wednesday night at Johnston High.
No. 6 Chariho (13-5-2) will face No. 4 Moses Brown (15-3-2) for the title Saturday at 2:30 p.m. at Cranston Stadium. Moses Brown downed top-seed Pilgrim in penalty kicks in the opener.
Pezzullo, a sophomore, took the direct kick from the 18-yard line on the right side of the box.
“I saw the wall was to the right, so I went for the left corner down low,” Pezzullo said. “I was very excited when it went in.”
Pezzullo said the ball hit off a North Smithfield player, but had more than enough momentum to cross the line for what proved to be the game-winning goal.
Chariho was awarded the direct kick when forward Spencer Shiels and a North Smithfield forward collided on a through ball. The goalie was called for a foul.
No. 2 North Smithfield (16-3) had won eight in a row, outscoring its opponents 34-5 over that span, before Wednesday’s loss.
“We worked together as a team. We moved up and down the field as a unit and everyone played at the same intensity level,” Chariho coach Brittney Godbout said. “And that's how victories are won.”
Chariho junior back Daria DiBiasio had a tremendous game. She effectively marked North Smithfield’s outstanding striker, Sadie Crozier, who has scored more than 20 goals this season.
“She likes to get the ball behind her, and I wanted to cut that pass off and beat her to the ball before she got it,” DiBiasio said. “She was kind of crafty with it.”
Godbout said DiBiasio has been a force all season for the Chargers.
“She has been our constant savior this season,” Godbout said. “She has been consistent every single game. She makes [goalie] Ali Klein’s job easier.”
DiBasio was also able to help start the Chariho attack, using her foot skills to elude pressure from the Northmen.
Chariho took a 1-0 lead with 11:03 left in the first half on a goal by Emily Seekell. The playe started with a through ball on the right side of the field. A hustling Shiels blew by a pair of Northmen defenders and somehow ran down the ball just a few yards from the end line.
She pulled the ball back and directed it to Seekell, who was about 19 yards from the goal just outside the box on the right side. Seekell delivered a perfect diagonal strike over the goalie’s head and into to the left corner of the net.
North Smithfield tied the game about seven minutes into the second half on a goal by Skylah Sullivan off a pass from Crozier.
Chariho upset No. 3 East Providence, 4-3, in a quarterfinal-round matchup on Monday.