NARRAGANSETT — So much for the rebuilding year.
The Narragansett girls soccer team was tempering expectations in the preseason after losing a huge senior class from last year’s Division III runner-up squad. Two weeks into the season, it may be time to recalibrate. Newcomers have adjusted well to the varsity field and other teams in D-III are also still figuring things out. The result has been an impressive start for the Mariners, who improved to 3-0-1 with a 6-0 victory over Tolman on Monday.
“Definitely proud of their efforts so far,” head coach Kathryn Mahoney said. “I think a lot of the freshmen have really stepped it up and taken on leadership roles on the field, even though they’re young. That’s tough as a coach to know if that’s going to happen. If anything, I’d rather have lower expectations and be surprised and that’s been the case.”
The Mariners started the season with a bang, beating Paul Cuffee School 9-0. They followed that with a 5-0 win over Rogers, which had been one of the top teams in the league last year. Last Thursday, Narragansett played Shea, its toughest opponent so far, and played the Raiders to a 2-2 tie. Considering the strength of competition, the draw may have been better than the two wins.
“We played a very tough Shea team last week and held our own,” Mahoney said. “It was a tie but it was one of those good ties.”
Tolman was one of the best teams in the league last year, having faced Narragansett in the semifinals, but Monday’s rematch indicated that the Mariners’ reset is going better.
In the second minute of the game, freshman Anna Hart got loose on a breakaway after a Tolman turnover and knocked a shot into the net for the 1-0 lead. Just over two minutes later, senior Natalie Landy drilled a one-timer from 25 yards out to make it 2-0.
Another breakaway chance in the sixth minute yielded a goal for senior Anna Lubic before Hart scored again in the seventh minute. It was a 4-0 game before the 10-minute mark.
Narragansett tacked on two more goals later in the half, with sophomore Emma Landy and freshman Bridget Blessing doing the honors. The Mariners took their foot off the gas pedal in the second half but the defense and goalie Lucia Given held onto the shutout.
All in all, it was another step in the right direction for the Mariners, with returning players getting more comfortable and the newcomers continuing to play well.
“The nice part is they keep improving. They’re coming in already with a skillset, which is great. Now they’re going to learn my expectations for them,” Mahoney said. “I think they’re already showing improvement so I can only imagine where they’ll be at the end of the season and in a few years. They’re playing like veterans already.”
Challenges surely await, though. Division III always seems to feature haves and have-nots, and the Mariners will run into more of the haves down the line. One such game was set for Wednesday, as the Mariners prepped to face Tiverton in a championship rematch.
“I tell the girls, you have to go into each game forgetting last season,” Mahoney said. “Things can change drastically, as we’ve already seen. Shea wasn’t as strong last year and Tolman was stronger. That seems to have flipped. Rogers wasn’t as strong this year. It’s still early but you just go game-by-game. We looked at this week as a tough one going into it, so we’ll just play our game and hope for the best.”