2017-09-07 / Front Page

Let The Games Begin

Islanders’ Girls Battle Bulldogs to a Tie
By James Merolla


(Photo by Meri Keller) (Photo by Meri Keller) As the weather inches into autumn, area schools have started classes even as their athletic programs are in full swing. It’s the season for soccer, cross-country, field hockey, tennis, volleyball and football. And they’ve all been training for the last month, and beyond, to put their best collective foot forward. Local teams are champing at the bit to take their respective courts, fields and pitches to see who’s who this fall. To open the Division I football season, Rogers High School faces off against intra-island rival Portsmouth on Friday night, Sept. 8. The same night, Middletown’s varsity squad takes on Barrington in a division-crossover matchup. Here, Westerly soccer defender Emily Haik (No. 6 at left) makes every effort to persuade Middletown goalkeeper Julia Psaras to give her the ball. Psaras wouldn’t have it and the two teams drew an early season tie on Sept. 5.


Westerly‘s junior goalkeeper, Macie Woycik (airborne at center), rejects a header attempt after an Islanders’ corner kick late in the game to preserve the tie. Westerly‘s junior goalkeeper, Macie Woycik (airborne at center), rejects a header attempt after an Islanders’ corner kick late in the game to preserve the tie. Who knew defense could be so exciting?

In an early season contest between two evenly matched girls soccer teams, the Middletown Islanders tied the Westerly Bulldogs 1-1 on Tuesday night, Sept. 5 at Gaudet Field.

Middletown, which fielded just four seniors, scored just three minutes into the game and then didn’t find the back of the net for the remaining 77 minutes.

That lone goal came when sophomore Leslie Campbell fired a perfect pass from the wide edge of the field to racing senior forward Mia Arrieta, who blasted it along the ground past Bulldog goalie Macie Woycik.

Woycik then became a fortress making seven stops, including a sensational one to save the game. She was equaled by Middletown sophomore goalie Julia Psaras, who kept the Bulldogs from pulling ahead down the stretch.


Middletown’s Leslie Campbell (36) hugs senior Mia Arrieta after Arrieta scored the Islander’s lone goal. Campbell, a sophomore, assisted on the play. Junior Erin Clancey (20) joins the celebration. Middletown’s Leslie Campbell (36) hugs senior Mia Arrieta after Arrieta scored the Islander’s lone goal. Campbell, a sophomore, assisted on the play. Junior Erin Clancey (20) joins the celebration. Psaras’ first test came 23 minutes into the first half when she blocked a point-blank shot and then received a bit of luck when a Westerly player looped the rebound over an open net.

Rush after rush was thwarted by solid defense from both teams. But when the Islanders tired near the end of the first half, Westerly’s Erika Mayne took advantage with a brilliant long free kick from the sidelines. She hit Bulldog forward Sadie Benn in mid-stride, and Benn, with one motion, dribbled a shot past Psaras with only three minutes left in the half, tying the game.


Islanders’ freshman, Grace Haskell (25) rushes her dribble into the Bulldogs’ end of the field, while keeping her head up for a teammate cutting from the left wing. Islanders’ freshman, Grace Haskell (25) rushes her dribble into the Bulldogs’ end of the field, while keeping her head up for a teammate cutting from the left wing. At halftime, Middletown head coach Marc Haskell begged his players to pass, “short-short-long. Then, move the ball,” and to control pop-up kicks.

The Islanders listened, working the ball back and forth, sideline to sideline, in a flowing style for the first 10 minutes.

Woycik made a spectacular save on one rush, then stymied another. Psaras made two of her own. She was fortunate once again late in the game when another Westerly rebound sailed inches over the crossbar.

“I thought we had a better second half than the first half, even though we had the wind,” Haskell said. “This was a fitness thrust for us. We are not in midseason form, but it’s a young team and they are so willing to move forward. I was very pleased with their hustle from one side of the field to the other. They worked hard to win the ball, only to allow someone else to take it. There were too many counters, but they will learn.”


Junior Kate Homer (30) attempts to dribble the ball past Bulldogs’ sophomore Sydney Federico (21), late in the first half. Junior Kate Homer (30) attempts to dribble the ball past Bulldogs’ sophomore Sydney Federico (21), late in the first half. Middletown beat Tiverton in its season opener, 2-0. Middletown, with a 1-0-1 record, plays Cranston East on Thursday, Sept. 7, then the Wheeler School on Tuesday, Sept. 14. Both games are at home with 6 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. start times, respectively.


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