PROVIDENCE – Shea High veteran mentor Pierre Ridore explained how irritated he had been back on Tuesday afternoon after his squad, playing with little emotion or care, had surrendered a 1-0 defeat to struggling Central Falls.
“It was our first loss to Central Falls dating back to 2003; it was our Blackstone Valley Invitational (Tournament) game,” he stated. “We hadn't lost to them in over a decade, and I told the kids that it shouldn't have happened, that they were playing too lazy.”
What a difference a few days can make, especially after a lambasting from the coach who had expected a better overall effort from his troops.
Late Friday afternoon at Conley Stadium, the determined Raiders outplayed and outhustled Central for a complete 80 minutes, then eventually strolled to their team bus with a demonstrative 5-0 Division I triumph.
Sophomore forward Carlos Fernandes led the sterling effort with a hat trick and an assist, while senior forward Cecilio Nobre contributed two tallies and a feed and classmate/winger Kevin Andrade a pair of assists.
With the decision, Shea improved to 5-4-0 overall and 4-4-0 in D-I action, while the Knights – who had begun the day in fifth place behind Barrington, La Salle, North Kingstown and South Kingstown – fell to 4-2-3 in the league.
“I think that loss woke us up; I mean, it happened at our home, at Max Read Field,” Ridore said after the win. “I think they decided, 'Hey, we've got to start playing up to our potential.' I hope that woke us up; this is the best game we've played all year. Central is really skilled and they can run, but our kids showed me a lot (on Friday).
“We just wanted it more,” he added. “The ball movement was terrific, and we had good one-touch passing. They weren't playing kickball, absolutely not … I could kind of tell on the bus on the way here. Usually, when we're going on the road, the guys will be laughing and joking around, and I'll have to tell them to settle down and think about the task at hand.
“I didn't have to say a word (Friday). Everyone was focused and ready. We left the school at 3 (p.m.), and you could hear a pin drop. I think they wanted to win.”
After an opening half where both teams battled around midfield, Ridore's bunch finally broke the ice with about a minute left before intermission; that's when Fernandes knocked home a feed from junior midfielder Kenneth Teye to give the visitors a 1-0 advantage.
It would prove to be the game clincher.
Just a few minutes into the final session, senior Hericles Tavares crushed a point-blank shot at Knights' senior keeper Yair Godinez, but he made an outstanding block. At the eight-minute mark, sophomore Sergio Lopes attacked the cage with an 18-yard rope, but Godinez made a superb lunging save.
He couldn't do it against Nobre in the 52nd minute, as he took a through pass from Fernandes, juked a pair of defenders with a couple of dribbles and fired a high liner over the goalie to make it 2-0.
Not long after, it looked as if the Knights would knife the deficit in half after sophomore Yorik Sajbin delivered a superb cross pass from the left to classmate Jhon Bastidas. The latter gained control in front of the net and rifled a low liner at Shea junior netminder Wilson Fernandes, though the try sailed just outside the right post.
Midway through the half, junior co-captain Frank Jajo stationed himself on the left and whistled a high, hard one at Fernandes, but it caromed off the crossbar.
In the interim, and after, the Shea defense – led by senior William Baah, Lopes, sophomores Camragha Namusse and Alvaro Garcia and senior Michael Lopes – marked the potential Central goal scorers with intensity and speed. That's why the hosts manufactured only five attempts throughout the contest.
When Carlos Fernandes scored on a breakaway in the 75th minute – one he drove just inside the left post after a stellar through pass from Nobre to make it 3-0 – the Knights seemed ready to accept the defeat.
The Raiders nevertheless kept coming, and sealed it with tallies by Carlos Fernandes (in the 79th minute) and Nobre (with just seconds remaining).
All told, Wilson Fernandes registered four saves, while Godinez closed with seven and sophomore back-up keeper Oscar Bassett – who came on with about 25 minutes left in the second half – three.
“I was most pleased with how aggressive we were,” Ridore noted. “We didn't lay back, like we had done in more than a few games. We were hungry, and we wanted it more. I thought William (Baah) was great back there at sweeper. In fact, he's one of the best defenders in the state. He has a ton of speed, but he also was smart with the ball for all 80 minutes.
“There are times he'll play maybe 75 or 76 minutes at full speed, and that would get us into trouble. He had a complete, 100-percent defensive game, and I hope it continues – not just with him, but everyone. I've always known this was a good team, and they played like it here.”