Is another deep run in store for EPHS girls’ soccer?

Townies return eight starters from D-II runner-up squad

By Mike Rego
Posted 9/1/21

EAST PROVIDENCE — Though having suffered a gut-wrenching overtime loss in the league championship contest a year ago, the atmosphere is nothing but positive around the East Providence High …

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Is another deep run in store for EPHS girls’ soccer?

Townies return eight starters from D-II runner-up squad


EAST PROVIDENCE — Though having suffered a gut-wrenching overtime loss in the league championship contest a year ago, the atmosphere is nothing but positive around the East Providence High School girls’ soccer team which returns eight starters and appears poised for another terrific season this fall.

The Townies went unbeaten all the way through the regular season and into the Division II title game during the COVID-19 shortened 2020 campaign before falling to East Greenwich, 3-2. The Avengers netted the championship-winning goal in the first minute of the second of two five-minute extra sessions. EPHS settled for the runner-up trophy and a 7-1-1 overall record, including wins over Moses Brown and West Warwick earlier in the playoffs.

Veteran EPHS head coach Angelo Pizzi, assisted again by his wife, Stacie, attempted to downplay talk of the Townies being considered a favorite for a deep playoff run and of beting potential championship contenders in 2021.

“I don’t know,” Pizzi said of the conjecture. “I certainly believe we’re a playoff team, but I don’t want us to think about any of that other stuff. The big thing about this team is that they’re outstanding girls, high quality, high character people. And they’re academically oriented. They’re just solid young ladies.”

The Townies did lose two program stalwarts to graduation from last year, do-everything midfielder Ashley Dias and defender Emily Gorski, but bring back a bevy of talented players led by leading returning scorer and two-time team captain Olivia Williams.

“We think Olivia is one of the best players in the state. She should have been All-State last year. There’s really nothing she can’t do on the field and she’s an outstanding leader,” said Pizzi.

The senior is one of three starters back in the midfield along senior captain Lily Budnick and classmate Tessa LaRoche. Sophomore first-year starter Eva Laroche completes the four players in the center of the pitch.

“What’s nice about them is their ability to play off of each other. They anticipate each other’s movement and they have tremendous ball placement,” Pizzi said of his midfield grouping.

Up front, junior forward Jordyn Brogan is back at striker. One of two freshmen, Ava Soares and Kat Almeida, will likely be the other forward and whoever isn’t will see time at midfield.

“Jordyn has gained an awful lot of confidence since last year,” said Pizzi. “She’s developed a powerful strike and she has always had elusive speed. We’re looking for her to score double digit goals.”

The defense is anchored by the returning starter sister duo of senior captain Briana Lopes and sophomore McKayla Lopes. Returning starter Hailee Manteiga makes the switch from midfield to the back four with sophomore newcomer Grace Gagne rounding out the group.

“The defenders are very solid. They have a lot of experience,” Pizzi said. “I think the (Lopes) sister relationship is key. The obviously know each other very well. As a group, they’re all physically strong, they have good game awareness, they’re confident plus they’re all inter-changible.”

A year ago this time, the EPHS keeper situation was likely the team’s greatest unknown. Senior Kaylee Davenport answered most of those questions, establishing herself as the starter and a legitimate No. 1. She’ll be backed up this fall by freshman Kloey Iacavone.

“Kaylee continues to become more and more consistent and she’s becoming more of a presence on the field,” Pizzi said.

The rest of the varsity roster and those expected to contribute throughout the season include sophomore midfielder Amanda Lopes, sophomore Kassidy Martins who moves from goal to the midfield, senior defender Julia Rocha, classmate/defender Susana Soares and freshman midfielder Brennyn Alves.

Of his team in general as the 2021 season begins, Pizzi said, “I like the cohesiveness, the familiarity they have with each other and they have a good grasp of the fundamentals. We need to have create more consistent scoring threats and be better at finishing.

“As I tell the team every year, we want to be playing when it’s cold outside. I preach to them we want to be playing when our fingers are cold, our toes are cold, when everyone is wearing winter coats. That means we’re one of the last teams playing and how we know our season has been a success.”

The Townies were slated to play St. Raphael, Moses Brown and Middletown at Pawtucket’s McKinnon-Alves Field Thursday afternoon, Sept. 2, in their Injury Fund scrimmages beginning at 2:45 p.m.

The locals begin Division II regular season scheduled in Warwick against Toll Gate Wednesday, Sept. 8, 3:45 p.m. then plays its first-ever home game in the athletics stadium at the new EPHS on Friday afternoon, Sept. 10, at 3:30 p.m.

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A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.