WOOD RIVER JCT. — About three weeks ago, the Chariho High girls soccer team defeated rival Westerly High for its third straight win.
It appeared to be a solid victory for the Chargers. Afterward, the team gathered at the end of the field to talk with coach Brittney Godbout.
They chatted, and chatted and chatted some more. No one was smiling or laughing. It was serious business.
Godbout was concerned about her team's lack of consistent effort and an inability to translate practice lessons to the game field. She sternly delivered that message to them.
Now, the Chargers will be playing for the Division II championship Saturday at Cranston Stadium against Moses Brown at 2:30 p.m.
What has happened in those three weeks?
"We've been consistent. Every single girl we've put on the field has played at the same intensity level," Godbout said. "We are still making mistakes, but we are picking each other up. They believe in each other.
"Our last few [regular-season] games were against the lower end of the division. We were really able to take what we were doing in practice and apply it in games without pressure."
Chariho (13-5-2) is 9-0-1 in its last 10 games. The No. 6 Chargers beat No. 3 East Providence, 4-3, in the quarterfinals and No. 2 North Smithfield, 2-1 in overtime, in the semifinals.
No. 4 Moses Brown (15-3-2) beat No. 5 Exeter-West Greenwich, 5-2, and No. 1 Pilgrim in penalty kicks to reach the title game. It was Pilgrim's first loss of the season.
Moses Brown, which beat Chariho 3-2 in the regular season, presents problems.
"Marybeth Fitzsimmons is one of the better playmakers in the league. She played up top when we played them, but they actually had her on defense against Pilgrim," Godbout said. "I'm not sure where they will use her against us.
"Morgan Plouffe is their center midfielder and she exhausted us when we played them during the season."
Godbout said Megan Themistocle is a strong attacker and defender with great speed. She played in the back against Chariho, but was at center midfield in the Pilgrim game. The Patriots also have a strong goalie in Kelly Graziano.
"They are very good through the middle," Godbout said. "We have to find space on attack."
In the postseason, speedy Spencer Shiels has two goals and two assists. Rebekah Sullivan has two goals. Emily Seekell and Bella Pezzullo have goals, while Tia Sardelli and Tessa Azzinaro have assists.
Sardelli and Daria DiBiasio anchor the back line. The Chargers have used Sardelli at sweeper and DiBiasio at stopper instead of a flat four back system.
Sardelli has good speed and strength. She makes good decisions. DiBiasio draws the opponent's top offensive threat. The Chargers also have an athletic keeper in Alison Klein, who is quick to come off the line and gobble up through balls.
The stopper-sweeper system has been effective.
"How we play definitely depends upon the opponent," Godbout said. "But we've played it the last four or five games of the season. It's helped us generate our attack, too. It's been working."
Moses Brown ended Chariho's season in 2018 and 2017 in the playoffs. Chariho's only Division II title came in 2000.
"We just have to show up for the entire 80 minutes," Godbout said.