BRISTOL - The Bristol Eastern girls soccer team dominated ball possession early in the second half against rival Bristol Central, but even as number of quality chances missed just wide of the net, it looked like the Lancers’ elusive goal to break a scoreless tie was only a matter of time before it finally materialized.
Instead, with one misstep and one healthy boot from nearly 20 yards out, the Rams grabbed momentum and came away with an improbable 1-0 victory to beat Eastern for the first time in five seasons.
After withstanding a barrage of chances from Eastern, Central junior Bella Bosco fielded a free ball and darted up the sideline, broke past Avery Arbuckle after the senior lost her balance while trying to change positioning, and fired an arching shot into the back of the net with 7:15 left in the game to claim the City Series rivalry.
“It felt good to score against Eastern,” Bosco said. “That’s probably the most satisfying goal you can make in a season. It’s against Eastern and the whole town knows about it. That was pretty cool.”
Bosco’s goal marked a sudden change in the game’s narrative up to that point.
Eastern opened the second half with multiple bids to grab the lead and got its best chance with 24:43 left in the game. Freshman Breanna Ventura-Nelson knocked a pass through a pair of Central defenders to the foot of fellow freshman Emily Nelson, who beat a sliding Liz Hintz with a low shot, but it went just wide, as the Rams once again survived trouble.
“Sometimes soccer is that type of game,” Eastern head coach Scott Redman said. “Sometimes you hit the crossbar and it goes in like Collins’ goal against Farmington and sometimes it squirts just wide like it did on Emily’s breakaway today. That’s soccer.”
Eastern also threatened in the early minutes of the first half on three throw-ins from Leah Policarpio, but the Lancers couldn’t generate a quality shot from them. Policarpio let go a corner kick shortly after her throw-in tries and found Nelson, but the freshman’s header bounced wide of the net and the game remained scoreless.
Central had its first chance minutes later when Bosco tried to find Jenna Lowe just in front of the net, but the pass led Lowe too far and rolled right into the waiting hands of Eastern goalkeeper Maura Cyr.
The Lancers flirted with the game’s first goal with 20 minutes remaining in the first half when Cecelia Gilbert lifted a high bouncer towards Lili Morneault, but just before Morneault could get a head on it, Hintz leaped in front and snatched the ball out of midair to preserve the tie.
Policarpio was in the middle of the action again with less than 10 minutes left in the half, when she muscled her way through four Rams defenders and sent a centering pass to Morneault, but the ball rolled under Morneault’s leg as she wound up for a shot with only Hintz standing between her and the net.
“Having that many chances is difficult,” Eastern sophomore Ciara Collins said. “Especially when you end up losing.”
The Lancers almost converted on a corner kick try in the opening minutes of the second half, when Policarpio launched a curling shot from the flag that was met by the head of Collins, but the shot whizzed just wide of the far post. Both teams continued to labor for the opening score, until Bosco quickly changed the outlook of the game for the Rams with one burst of speed and a well-placed shot from long distance Central head coach Ginny Godbout knew Bosco was always capable of making.
“She’s been on a whole other level this year,” Godbout said. “We always knew she had a lot, but over the past couple years she’s had injuries and other things going on. She’s a whole different kid this year. She’s healthy and just taking her game to a new level.”
Bosco put in the game-winner, but Central’s bend-don’t-break defense put Bosco in position to be the hero, weathering a storm of attacks from Eastern to eventually flip the field and send Bosco and the Rams on their way to their first win against their crosstown rivals in five years.
“I couldn’t be prouder of the defense,” Godbout said. “They all stepped up big time. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”
Bristol Central 1, Bristol Eastern 0
At Bristol Eastern
Goals: Bella Bosco (BC).
Saves: Maura Cyr (BE) 4, Liz Hintz (BC) 4.
Records: Bristol Eastern 3-3-2, Bristol Central 5-2-1.