RICHMOND — Emma Kucal certainly didn’t take long to pick up where she left off.
Cumberland’s second striker is in great shape. More efforts like this Tuesday night at Chariho will make her an easy All-State women’s soccer selection in consecutive seasons.
Kucal scored all the goals for the Clippers, including a safe goal in the 72nd minute. That was enough to hold the Chargers 4-2 in a fun First Division showdown.
Kucal needed just 28 minutes to score a hat-trick and threatened more on a few other occasions. The decisive goal came late as she put pressure on Chariho’s defense and simply took the ball off the right wing. Kucal got past a couple of opponents and scored a goal to restore a two-goal lead.
“That was good,” Kucal said. “We knew we had a comfort goal if they scored again.”
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Finding the bottom of the net has not been a problem for Cumberland so far. The Clippers (3-0) won all three league games 15-3 combined, scoring at least three goals in each. They started the season with a 3-1 win over defending champions North Kingstown and quickly gained momentum.
“We lost a lot of veterans last year, so we didn’t know what to expect,” Kucal said. “It was definitely a very positive start to the season.”
Kucal took advantage of defensive errors to convert a couple of entry goals in the second and 17th minutes, respectively. You could tell the Chargers struggled to eliminate danger in front of their own net. You can also allow some leeway for rain and credit a player who seems to read the game at an advanced level.
“I think just being in the right place at the right time – it could have been anyone,” Kucal said. “I think it happened to me. It was a great move by my teammates that led to those goals. ”
Kucal’s third came in a rush down the right wing. His speed gained space and a powerful right foot kick found the light of day inside the nearest post. Chariho was facing a 3-0 deficit at halftime.
“Emma is an amazing player – she’s so much fun to watch,” said Chariho coach Brittney Godbout. “We knew we were the underdog.”
The Chargers (2-2) took the championship pedigree with them to the highest level after winning a Division II title last fall. In the second half, with goals from Emily Brown and Ryann Denecour – a smaller opponent could have taken a beating against Cumberland’s relentless attack. Reid DosSantos made two outstanding saves to deny Kucal and Chariho returned for the match.
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“Our goal today was to compete – stay in the game – and we did that,” said Godbout. “The second half was much better than the first. We got two pretty solid goals.”
Brown’s high kick to the back post came from an assist by Denecour from the left wing. Denecour did the honors in the 68th minute, shooting a 35-yard dash that went under the crossbar. The confidence that Chariho built with early-league wins over Smithfield and Barrington certainly contributed here.
“The girls are really stepping up,” Godbout said. “You can even see the improvement in training. They really want to.
“They are increasing the speed of the game. They’re holding each other accountable. I am very excited to see them grow in such a short time.”
Score and stats: Cumberland 4, Chariho 2
CUMBERLAND (4): Emma Kucal 4; assistance – Nicole Calle.
CHARIHO (2): Emily Brown, Ryann Denecour; assists – Denecour, Charlie Edmunds.
Interval – Cu., 3-0. Sage – Catalina Gomez-Velez, Cu., 9; Reid Dos Santos, Ch., 13.
On Twitter: @BillKoch25