RICHMOND — Emma Kucal certainly didn’t take long to pick up where she left off.
The Cumberland sophomore forward is in scintillating form. More efforts like this on Tuesday night at Chariho will make her an easy All-State women’s soccer selection in consecutive seasons.
Kucal scored all for the Clippers, including a 72nd-minute insurance goal. That was enough to hold off the Chargers, 4-2, in an entertaining Division I matchup.
Kucal needed just 28 minutes to collect a hat-trick and threatened to do more on a few other occasions. The killer goal came late when she pressed Chariho’s defense and simply scooped the ball up the right wing. Kucal ran through a pair of opponents and slid one home to restore a two-goal lead.
“That one felt good,” Kucal said. “We knew we had a comfort target in case they scored again.”
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Finding the back of the net hasn’t been a problem for Cumberland so far. The Clippers (3-0) have won their three league games by a combined 15-3, scoring at least three goals in each one. They started the season with a 3-1 win over defending champions North Kingstown and quickly gained momentum.
“We lost a lot of seniors last year so we didn’t know what to expect,” Kucal said. “It’s really been a very positive start to the season.”
Kucal jumped on defensive errors to convert a pair of goals scored in the second and 17th minutes, respectively. You could say the Chargers struggled to eliminate danger in front of their own net. You can also leave some wiggle room in the pouring rain and credit a player who seems to read the game at an advanced level.
“I think being in the right place at the right time – it could have been anyone,” Kucal said. “I guess it happened to me. It was excellent play by my teammates that led to these goals.
Kucal’s third came on a run down the right wing. His quickness gained space and a powerful right-footed shot found daylight inside the near post. Chariho was watching a 3-0 deficit in the break.
“Emma is such an amazing player – she’s so fun to watch,” Chariho coach Brittney Godbout said. “We knew we were the underdogs.”
The Chargers (2-2) carried the championship pedigree with them to the highest level after winning a Division II title last fall. It showed in the second half with goals from Emily Brown and Ryann Denecour – a lesser opponent could have suffered a hammer blow against Cumberland’s relentless attack. Reid DosSantos made two great saves to prevent Kucal and Chariho from getting back into the game.
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“Our goal today was to compete – to stay in the game – and we did that,” Godbout said. “The second half was much better than the first half. We scored two pretty solid goals.
Brown’s push to the back post came with an assist from Denecour from the left wing. Denecour did the honors herself in the 68th minute, sending a shot 35 yards under the crossbar. The confidence Chariho built from his early league wins over Smithfield and Barrington certainly helped here.
“The girls are really stepping up,” Godbout said. “You can see the improvement even in the drills in training. They really want it.
“They are picking up the speed of play. They are holding each other accountable. I am really pleased to see their growth in such a short time.
Score and statistics: Cumberland 4, Chariho 2
CUMBERLAND (4): Emma Kucal 4; attend – Nicole Calle.
CHARIHO (2): Emily Brown, Ryann Denecour; assists – Denecour, Charlie Edmunds.
Halftime – Cu., 3-0. Stops – Catalina Gomez-Velez, Cu., 9; Reid Dos Santos, Ch., 13.
On Twitter: @BillKoch25