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Friday, August 29, 2008

Men's Soccer 1, Sacred Heart 0

Welcome Matts
Marcin tips Jones, SHU over edge for Friars

Sacred Heart senior goalkeeper Matt Jones –going into his fourth and final visit to Glay Field with a cumulative log of 17 saves and eight goals against in three prior visits (and losses) here- built up a noticeable immunity for this clash with the Friars.

Regrettably for him, it was as reliable as last winter’s flu vaccination and eventually snuffed out just enough for him to submit a 1-0 defeat, granting PC’s Class of 2009 a generational sweep in the unofficially traditional late August convention between these two programs.

The Pioneers, a team that the transferred Jonathan Medcalf had specialized in dismantling during his two-year stay in Providence, now had its turn feeling the uncompromising, laborious desire of Matt Marcin. The sophomore midfielder watched Jones swallow his first two shot attempts as part of the Friars’ escalating romp everywhere outside of the scoreboard, then clicked in the 56th minute for the game’s only conversion.

Jones’ peak dynamics valiantly eclipsed the Friars’ stranglehold in the way of attempts. By day’s end, the marginal victors had charged up a 15-3 edge in shots, 7-2 in shots on net, 14-3 in awarded corner kicks, and 5-0 in offside calls. That’s how little Sacred Heart managed to penetrate the opposing backline corps.

The starting PC strike force –composed of a brimful five middies and a lone deep-rooted prospector in Timothy Ritter- took its time thawing out while each contesting band bludgeoned the stat sheet with foul calls. Leading up to near the 30-minute mark, the foul count read 6-5 tilting towards the Friars, the Pioneers had been denied on their only shot attempt at home goalkeeper Timothy Murray, and Ritter had supplied one wide attempt for the home team.

For the remaining third of the first half, though, Providence compiled a virtually undisrupted gush of five shot attempts, three going down in the SOG column. The solitary striker Ritter, who stepped out in favor of Sean Bahktiarti with eight seconds till break, accounted for half of the team’s first six purposeful boots while Ryan Maduro and Marcin thrust back to back stabs at Jones within the 40th minute.

Sacred Heart, which temporarily led the SOG drive via Filipe Celiyakka’s registered kick at Murray in the 29th minute, wouldn’t so much as take another attempt until the 50th minute –a wide kick by Jesper Fredricksson.

Six minutes later, Marcin had tested Jones twice more and finally bent the keeper’s steel spine at the 55:36 mark. Michael Pereira directed a feed from Maduro to Marcin, who whisked it home from a reported six yards distance.

Nothing but another fit of Pioneer cleat numbness ensued. Starting with Marcin’s two, the Friars ran up eight unanswered shots, half of them played or damagingly missed by Jones, and two strikingly coming off the cranium of defender Bryan Minogue, one of which Jones was forced to lash out at in the 63rd minute.

Ritter concluded the tempest with his team-leading fourth attempt of the day at 77:24, four minutes before the Pioneers offered Murray a little more action and everyone a reminder that potential overtime was in tasting distance.

But Murray pushed away Jason Tessitore’s attempted corner kick conversion at 81:17, and within another two minutes, Celiyakka drew his second card of day and the consequential heave-ho, symbolically zapping any Sacred Heart rally hopes.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Women's Soccer 3, Bryant 1

PC wards off feisty Dogs
Delectable debut for Delciampo salvaged

The upstart Bryant Bulldogs have a protracted plan to blossom into a Division I fixture. The Friars are running on an exponentially spiking appetite to splash its arid track record. Their convergence on Glay Field Thursday afternoon concocted a matchup of two inwardly diverse situations, yet also a fitting complement between two Little Rhody soccer sorority bases measuring up as lightweights on the NCAA landscape.

Though this was a pre-Labor Day showdown, victory –or better yet, defeat evasion- would be a symbolically crucial start for either party.

Ultimately, the Friars averted disaster quite fashionably in a 3-1 triumph, laying out a 2-0 lead in the first half and then using an arm wrestling second to sugarcoat a daylong imbalance in fouls (15 calls against PC, 6 against Bryant), two second half yellow cards, and an imposing Bryant rally effort.

The Bulldogs, in their first of a slated four campaigns as an independent Division I itinerant, are now bearing a not-bad-for-beginners record of 1-2. Providence, which for the duration of its Big East membership has burrowed for the slightest signs of improvement that it can depend on, is officially 1-0 for the first time three years –for whatever that’s worth.

The Friars garnered their good omen almost exclusively in the form of Kate Delciampo, a reserve sophomore middie who was barely ten minutes removed from the bench before she had her first three career points –sculpted in the form of an assist on Tara Ricciardi’s goal in the 34th minute, followed by her own unaided strike at 41:29 for the eventual game-winner. Everyone is still breaking in their cleats and more mountainous challenges await, but Delciampo’s transcript in 2008 already matches that of 2007 scoring leader Megan Mancarella.

In logical accordance with the contesting programs’ respective backgrounds, PC held Bryant off any slots in the stats sheet throughout the first 17 minutes whilst sprinkling two offside calls, two fouls, and a slanted first shot attempt by freshman striker Laura DiClemente at 6:15.

Bryant eventually broke out the game’s first shot on net –a hack from Brooke Duchaney stoned by goalkeeper Jill Schott- only to watch the Friars’ Jill Camburn turn the course right back and try her luck with Bulldogs stopper Katie Mitchell twice in a matter of 67 seconds.

The Friars’ swarm put them instantly ahead in terms of shot attempts (5-1) and shots on net (2-1), though it was all in vain scoring-wise. But at 31:56, head coach Jim McGirr’s blockbuster, three-player swap between the starting lineup and the bench proved to uncork a particularly carbonated bottle in Delciampo, who was confined to the sidelines by injury all last season.

Delciampo plugged in the similarly feisty Camburn’s old post and had a helper on Ricciardi’s goal before her technical collegiate career was even two minutes old. Less than five minutes later, she let her first career shot attempt –and the Friars’ eighth of the game versus Bryant’s three- go wide at 38:37, but only waited another three minutes to hammer another shot home, stamping PC’s 2-0 edge at the half.

The Bulldogs recharged their laser-beamed defensive shield for the better part of the second half, keeping Mitchell out of the equation on three consecutive PC attempts and testing Schott once more courtesy scoring leader Kaitlyn Hinck at 57:10. But Hinck, who was good for a goal per game out west last weekend, was stifled by Schott and gave way to Duchaney in a substitution five minutes later.

Schott, who needed to make but one save in the first 45 minutes, perked up between the 64th and 79th minutes, during which Bryant ran up a 4-1 edge in shooting attempts and wrinkled the scoring difference to 2-1 at 69:30 courtesy senior co-captain Amy Orzechowski.

By half’s –and game’s- end, Bryant drew a more snug difference in shots (7-6 as opposed to PC’s 10-3 edge in the first half) and each team had tested the opposing goalkeeper five times.

Last ditch stabs from Bulldogs’ Alex Dippipo at 78:32 and Caitlyn Brodeur at 87:37 counted towards that tally. What didn’t count towards it, but did wrest the game safely away for the Friars, was an own goal on the part of the Bryant defense with 3:19 to spare in regulation.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Soccer Log

Elevated Bulldogs are pups in training

Smithfield-based Bryant University, in its first season as a Division I athletics’ program ogling eventual membership in the Northeast Conference (NEC), implicitly decided to let its women’s soccer team get the most taxing experiment out of the way first.

On tap to entertain the Friars’ home opener Thursday at 4:00, the Bulldogs only settled back into the Ocean State at the beginning of the week after a five-day, two-game break-in bonding excursion to the Rocky Mountains. Beyond a come-from-behind 3-2 OT win at Northern Colorado –officially ringing in the program’s D-I era at a 1-0 transcript- and a 3-1 falter at Wyoming, co-captain Amy Orzechowski recollected her team’s many retreat activities in an online diary posted on the team’s website.

It might as well be fun and games for the time being, for an elaborate five-year plan is in full swing as Bryant transitions out of its severed 28-year membership in the Division II Northeast-10 Conference.

When the school officially accepted the offer to upgrade all of its teams last October, the immediate plan was to render the rest of the 2007-08 season an “exploratory year” and one last crack at any Division II hardware. The female kickers ended up gushing on a 17-0-5 run before they spilled a 2-1 decision in the conference championship and snuffed out of the first round in the NCAA tournament.

Starting this autumn, a full collegiate generation of athletes will have to sacrifice any existing title yearnings as all teams run through a four-year reclassification period. By the end of the 2011-12 academic year, if all goes according to plan, independent schedules will give way to formal membership in the NEC and a shot at D-I championships.

For now, the rigorous vetting regimen is conspicuous by the near-absence of home games and diverse schedule. Putting the western venture aside, the Bulldogs have a smooth string of 14 road games ahead of them. Their 2008 home opener will double as the season finale when Cornell visits Bulldog Stadium on Friday, October 24. Bryant will only encounter three of its future conference cohabitants this autumn, visiting Sacred Heart on September 26, Quinnipiac –which pulled the exact same Northeast-10 to NEC transition in 1998- on September 28, and Wagner October 5.

In all, Bryant will dip into six eastern conferences this season, the most frequent being Ivy League members –Brown, Cornell, Dartmouth, Yale.

Similarly, the Bulldog men’s team –slated to tangle with the Friars at Glay Field on October 15- has but one formal home game to speak of this season, lined up for October 3 when Long Island University drops in. That game will serve as one of only four clashes with future NEC rivals.

Fragile advantages
For what its worth, Bryant’s initial two Division I contests staged one uplifting and one indigestible rally apiece. At Stop No. 1 last Friday, the host Northern Colorado sculpted a 2-0 lead on the strength of Sydney Vandervelde’s two second half goals before the Bulldogs finally perked up to strike within the 80th and 83rd minutes. Freshman forward Kaitlyn Hinck polished the comeback on her first collegiate strike at 14:47 of the bonus frame.

Two days later, the primordially hot Hinck spawned an immediate lead 14 minutes into Bryant’s tussle with Wyoming, though the Cowgirls swayed back for three unanswered conversions.

Free Kicks: PC and Bryant previously met in an innocent preseason exhibition over in Smithfield on August 20, 2005, the Bulldogs claiming a 1-0 decision…Providence senior forward Kelly Pettersen and Bryant junior defender Brianne Lustenring share the hometown of Massapequa, N.Y…Thursday will commence a four-game, strictly nonconference home stand for PC, carrying on to Sunday’s 1:00 kickoff with Stony Brook and a repeat Thursday-Sunday pattern with Holy Cross and Manhattan dropping in respectively…The Friars have won their last three home openers, but have not clocked in an overall 1-0 start since they beat Maine, 2-0, in the 2005 regular season opener.

Red Sox Commentary

Anticlimax would be (Yankee) dandy

Fans of both factions with the most tireless appetites might yearn for a peak moment bound for the Cooperstown vault when the Red Sox and Yankees tussle at Yankee Stadium for the final time.

But, of course, after the Sox depart the Bronx on Thursday afternoon, they’ll still have a magnitudinous 28 games left on their rigorous agenda and technically still won’t have their rosters finalized. September call-ups are up in the air for the Sox especially given Pawtucket’s guaranteed passport to next week’s IL playoffs and the major leagues are too plain big for August drama.

There is still that mathematical chance that the AL’s northeastern rivals will each earn postseason participation as usual, but why dream so vigorously? Does anyone really have enough rancorous energy as well as gambling compliance to go through with yet another ALCS showdown? You sure you want to risk bidding the stadium adieu whilst writhing in emotional postseason scars?

By next to no means does such a scenario appear plausible anymore, and that’s probably for the better. Even if Tampa Bay, Chicago, and Minnesota weren’t butting in so convincingly, Sox and Yanks buffs would be demanding more than is in supply and perhaps more than what’s good for them.

Finales of this breed are hard to come by if not impossible to compare. Most of us are too young to grasp the magnitude of Ted Williams’ personal walk-off in 1960, but, while visually pleasurable, it doesn’t challenge, say, the .406 season.

It’s a similar story with the old Boston Garden –the Hub’s only “Property Condemned” venue in any way comparable to the big Bronx ballyard. Both the Bruins and Celtics fizzled unceremoniously in the first round of their respective 1995 playoff runs, but a week before they debuted at the then-FleetCenter, the Bruins hosted the Last Hurrah in the form of a pre-season clash with Montreal.

Remember the score from that game? Didn’t think so. The lasting images from that night are all the alumni strolling on their skates one last time. Take the protracted All-Star ceremonies last month as the Yankee Stadium counterpart to that reflective event.

Again, it’s as much for the eye as it is for the heart and more for what the heart stored up in the past than what it might reap in the present. The Patriots caught a rare break with the defunct Foxboro Stadium when Adam Vinatieri penetrated the flurry to beat Oakland and ultimately propel the Pats to Super Bowl XXXVI. That game had both the visual exceptionality and the high-stakes adrenaline. But it’s rendered irrelevant to this discussion when you’re reminded that Gillette Stadium and only Gillette Stadium has a shot at being labeled the House That Brady & Belichick Built.

Yankee fans understandably want their team to leave their longtime abode in perking fashion, and beating the definitive rival would not hurt that cause. Just the same, visitors are capable of sculpting sweet memories at Yankee Stadium as well and a W in your very last visit makes for a peerless souvenir.

But when all of the present circumstances are stirred together, this is one of those rare times where it is more worthwhile to ceaselessly indulge in the past and let the majority of the present sneak by.

Don’t sharpen your teeth on the far-fetched hopes of these teams convening again to directly decide the upshot of their respective seasons. Instead, soak in the atmosphere as best you can –even if you’re not in attendance- and plug in all warm-up and between-inning voids to recall both the fond and forlorn memories. Every TV and media outlet on hand is just in the BP stage of that game, so join in.

As for the present game action, it’s nothing short of instinct for a Sox fan to crave one last dramatic disintegration of The Sandman on the same field where the life-changing 2004 pennant was clinched. Likewise, New Yorkers want to see their longtime house protected in its final weeks of activity –especially in a rivalry series. Nobody –tenant or guest- wants to leave a park like this on a bitter note.

But the fact that this is the last chance to see it happen at Yankee Stadium makes for only a bonus scrap of incentive. Setting a proper stage for September is what should matter for both parties.