EAST PROVIDENCE — Central ended the season of the East Providence High School boys' soccer team Monday afternoon, Oct. 31, in the pre-qualifying round of the 2016 Division I state championship tournament with a 3-1 victory over the locals in city at the Bayside FC complex.
Djero Donatien potted a pair of goals for the Knights, including what proved the deciding tally in the 38th minute of the first half. Donatien had initially put Central up 1-0 with his first goal in the eighth minute. The Townies netted their lone goal in the 14th minute, Manny Gouveia scoring off an assist from Leandro Frias.
East Providence ended its fall with a 3-8-4 overall record in league games while the Knights improved to 5-9-1 and advanced to a first-round meeting with fifth-seeded and Providence neighbor Classical in the main draw of the tournament later in the week.
"We got what we wanted out of this season. We made the playoffs and the younger guys got some experience," said EPHS head coach Tony Vieira. "Of course, we would have liked to have won, but Central was the better team today."
The Townies and Knights were playing for a spot in the main draw of the state tournament. Thirteen teams finished with the minimum number of points, 13, needed to qualify for the postseason. Tolman, like E.P. and Central, also wound up with 13 points, but won a tiebreaker based on "power points," or how the sides faired against the top teams in the league, between the three to earn the 11th seed in the tournament. The Townies and Knights met to determine the 12th seed.
Of note as well, Central defeated East Providence, 1-0, in their lone regular season meeting back in late September. Coach Vieira felt a tie on that day would have been a "fair result" for his Townies, whom he said misfired on between three and four quality scoring chances at goal.
Monday, Coach Vieira, likewise, said the result in the Knights' favor was fair. Central was the more aggressive team for most of the afternoon, maintained the majority of the possession and opened up the Townies' defense more regularly.
And while the Townies did generate a few other scoring opportunities than just the one during which they finished, if not for the superb keeping of senior goalie Nathan Silveira the final outcome would have been much more one sided.
"I thought they created more chances and they obviously did a better job finishing theirs. They put their's away and we didn't," Coach Vieira said. "As far as possession, that's the way Central plays. They like to keep the ball on the ground, keep it moving, build and build and build. They're one of the few teams in our league that plays that way."
Donatien's game-winning goal came just after Silveira jumped high to bat another of his shots over the crossbar. Prior to his goal, he dribbled through two E.P. defenders, then beat an onrushing Silveira low to the keeper's right.
In the second half, the Townies had a bit better of the play and created one significant scoring chance but the shot off a cross sailed wide of the frame. And with E.P. pressing forward a bit, the Knights made the Townies pay when Jose Rodas also split a pair of defenders then beat Silveira 1-v-1 with the third Central goal 16 minutes into the period.
"I think maybe we sat back a little too much in the first half. We let them take it too us a bit too much. In the second half, I thought we attacked more. But we're young. We have two sophomore central defenders. They've never played at this pace, this level before. We lost today, but we'll learn from this and be a better team for it," Coach Vieira added.