Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze Woonsocket North Smithfield 11-15-2018

The Valley Breeze Newspapers serving the Northern Rhode Island towns of Cumberland, Lincoln, Woonsocket, Smithfield, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, North Providence, Scituate, Foster, and Glocester

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JOHNSTON – The greatest Division II season in the North Smithfield High boys' soccer team's history didn't provide the glorious ending the Northmen and their fans dearly hoped for in Sunday after- noon's D-II championship game against the Wheeler School. Instead, the Northmen's season ended with an overtime defeat to the Warriors before a packed house at Johnston High's Polisena Stadium. Senior striker Braeden Cannon, who scored a pair of goals during his team's regular-season defeat to N.S., foiled the Northmen again by netting the game-winner with 1:54 to play in the first five-minute overtime session and leading the Warriors to a 2-1 vic- tory and their first RIIL champion- ship. The defeat was a crushing one for the Northmen, who were trying to win their program's third champion- ship after capturing the then-tabbed Division IV title in 2005 and the D-III crown the following year. The Northmen, who wrap up their cam- paign with a 16-2-1 record, had won the regular-season title with a 14-1-1 mark that was seven points better than second-place Wheeler's 11-2-3 mark, and they entered Sunday's game with an 11-0-1 record in their last dozen matches. Those were just a couple of the positives N.S. head coach Eric Korytkowski pointed out in his post- match remarks, as he did his best to mask his emotions and the pain he felt from the bitter loss. "For a small school, with under 500 kids, to do what these guys did this year ..." he said, his voice trailing off. "This was David vs. Goliath. You had the small public school vs. the bigger private school, and these kids put up a hell of a fight. We're sad that we lost, but we're not disappointed. These kids worked their butts off all year and it showed. We had the best regular- season record and the first Division II championship appearance in school history. Unfortunately, we came up one accomplishment short, but that doesn't take away anything that they did this year, and I couldn't have coached a better group of kids. I'm devastated more for them." To the Northmen's defense, they lost two of their top juniors to injuries during the game. Center midfielder Mike Fernandes suffered a head injury late in the first half and did not return to action, and striker Kyle Alves, who knotted the score at 1-1 with 2:06 to play in regulation, crumbled to the ground and was helped to the sidelines after he took a pass from Michael deRonde and fired a low 25-yard shot past Wheeler goalkeeper Ben Thornton. "Mike was feeling dizzy, he just wasn't feeling well, and we weren't going to push it," Korytkowski added. "He controls our midfield and sets up our offense. It's a huge loss, but his safety is more important than any game. And then we lost Kyle. We're down those two guys going into over- time, and it was a tall task. We knew we were going to struggle to score with them out." This game was a scoreless one, with plenty of quality opportunities by both sides, until 12:02 was left in regula- tion. The Warriors, which had suffered a 3-2 loss to the Northmen on Oct. 22, saw two of their youngest players team up for their initial tally, as fresh- man Sekou Kamara took a pass from classmate Travis Cobain and slipped it inside the right post and out of the reach of N.S. keeper Aidan Richer. Alves then sent the match into overtime, but Cannon, who will con- tinue his soccer career next fall at the University of Rhode Island, eventually scored the game and championship- winner by taking a feed in front of the net by Aiden Pastora and tucking it into the bottom right corner of the net. "We tried to mark Cannon, but he's the best player around for a reason," Korytkowski said. "You just can't lose your eye on him. We did for a split 16 SPORTS & RECREATION NOVEMBER 15-21, 2018 | VALLEY BREEZE | NORTH SMITHFIELD BLACKSTONE WOONSOCKET Northmen's title bid comes up short End of a superb season: Wheeler nips N.S. in overtime for D-II boys' soccer title By ERIC BENEVIDES Valley Breeze Sports Editor sports@valleybreeze.com BREEZE PHOTOS BY ERIC BENEVIDES Above, North Smithfield senior co-captain MICHAEL DERONDE, left, head coach ERIC KORYTKOWSKI, and senior co-captain RILEY CROZIER received the D-II runner-up plaque after Monday afternoon's championship game at Johnston High. The Northmen suffered a 2-1 overtime loss to the Wheeler School. Bottom, North Smithfield senior striker JUSTIN DECELLES, left, gets ready to slip past Wheeler junior halfback ROSS CORNELISSEN during the opening half. 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