By Amanda Dronzek
To wrap up an unbelievable season for all East Greenwich fall sports, the Avengers pulled through and brought home 3 state championships this weekend.
On the crisp morning of November 21st in Cranston, the girls Field Hockey team took to the turf in the D1 state final against La Salle. Coming off of a championship last year, the Field Hockey team had sent 10 seniors off to college, making this season more of a rebuilding experience for Coach Deb McMullen and the players. However, in EG, field hockey never sleeps, and the girls worked harder than ever over the summer and into the season to develop their team and repeat last year’s victory. “Our team is developing the confidence we had in the early 1990’s when losing was not an option,” McMullen explained. “This confidence again comes from our youth program and girls committing their skills all year long.” The Field Hockey program in EG has been family to some of these girls since 1998, and in 2010 when the high school implemented the turf field, the youth program was taken to a whole new level.
From elementary school up until high school, EGFH has coached hundreds of girls who now stand as parents, coaches, and players. In Saturday’s game, sophomore Alex Mega showed us just how far she’s come as someone who has played through the program for years. Both La Salle and EG exhibited amazing defense, keeping the game scoreless. The game went into sudden death OT, the first goal determining this year’s state champion. As time was running out, Mega found an opportunity to score for the Avengers as a breakaway formed, dribbling down the field 75 yards to the goal. “When I had the ball I was listening to all the encouragement and my team screaming for me and then as I was getting past all the defenders I was thinking one down, one more to go and when I got to the goalie, I shot it into the left corner,” Mega explained. Just like a drill, she weaved in and out through La Salle’s defense, knocking out the competition one by one until it was just Alex and the goalie, one shot away from victory. “It was so surreal and not only was I proud of myself, I was proud of my teammates. I couldn’t have done it without my team.”
The East Greenwich field hockey team made history winning back to back championships for the first time since 1992. Both the players and coaches had seen this season as a way to replace the seniors they lost, however the girls were determined to get another state championship. With the encouragement of Coach Deb and the unbreakable bonds between the girls, they did exactly what they set out to do, and brought back yet another plaque for East Greenwich. The final score, 1-0 Avengers.
Hours after the incredible accomplishments by the field hockey team, the boys D2 state championship against Mt. Hope went underway, hoping to continue EG’s winning streak. On Saturday afternoon at Johnston high school, the boys fought for 90 minutes, keeping the score 0-0. Ready to bring home the second victory of the day for EG, the team squared up for OT, more determined than ever to finish out the season with a win. Many of the players on EG had been playing with each other since elementary school, working tirelessly to climb the ranks and take home a championship in high school. After the first half of overtime, the score remained the same with just 5 minutes remaining for one team to get a shot on net. Both goalies and defenders stayed solid throughout the game, stopping East Greenwich and Mt. Hope strikers in their path. Opportunities came and went, back and forth between the opponents, but no goals were scored.
Finally, with less than 3 minutes left, captain and senior Ethan Fain for EG saw a chance to end it right then and there. Fain saw senior Andrew Mega running down the line to the center of the box, ready for a cross. After practicing these kinds of plays all season long, Ethan set the scene and put up a once in a lifetime cross for Andrew to head into the net. In the loudest silence, the fans and players watched as his head made contact with the ball, locking it right into the back of the net. Game over. For the first time since 2010, the boys soccer team was able to win a state championship, despite the obstacles faced with COVID on their tails the entire season. “I really was just thinking about how much I wanted to win and not go into penalty shots,” Fain said relieved. “This year Andrew and I have had great success playing with each other and the majority of my assists were to him. It’s truly been crazy. Ever since we lost last season in the quarterfinals to Lincoln we knew this year was our year.”
And indeed it was. With an undefeated record and relentless efforts to take the title all season long, EG was long overdue to redeem themselves. Of course, with a great cross comes a great execution, and it wouldn’t have been possible without Andrew Mega, the second Mega of the day to win a championship for their team. “This is the best feeling in the world,” Mega exclaimed. “Ever since we were freshmen we knew that we would have a good chance at winning it since we had so many people in our class. And as one of my teammates, Matthew Schambers, told me, “We were bound to do something special with 13 seniors.” Not only was this momentous occasion special, it was historical. 2 championships in 1 day, with the girls soccer championships happening Sunday and an opportunity for a sweep by East Greenwich sports.
The pressure was on for the East Greenwich D2 girls soccer team as they faced the number one seed, East Providence in Johnston. Just like the boys soccer team, both teams battled with aggression and passion, their skills blossoming with every play. With just a few minutes left in the half, E. Providence was able to get a goal through EGs outstanding goalkeeper, Rosa Caliri. Knowing what was on the line, EG got it together, and Sofia Barnes quickly tied the game at the beginning of the second half. Time was running out for both teams as the clock ticked down to 20 minutes. East Providence’s forward, Jordyn Brogan, scored for a second time just when they needed the lead most. With the championship still up for grabs, senior Maeve Phinney stepped up, scoring a clutch goal for EG with just minutes left in the game to tie it, 2-2. The game went into OT, becoming the third state championship this weekend to end a game in over time.
The first 5 minutes ran by, the Avengers more dead set on a victory than ever. In the final minutes of the half, EG’s very own Izzy Geltzhiser found an opportunity in the midst of the chaos. She passed the ball to sophomore Gracie Kauffman, and the rest was history. With a final score of 3-2, the Avengers won their first girls soccer state championship in EG history. “As a player, this means so much to me,” Kauffman said. “I started off the season with the first goal and I wanted to score the last as well. Coach Lockhart believed in us and wanted the win just as much as we did.” That she did. Lockhart, a former graduate from the EG class of 2012, had played soccer through high school and had always come short of winning a championship. With this year’s team, she was given the chance to do what her former self never could. “Coming back to coach in EG has always been a dream of mine, and winning a championship was certainly a goal. I always tell the team there is nowhere else I’d rather coach.”
The victory was just as sweet for the coaches as it was for the players, especially the seniors. Just like that, East Greenwich swept the weekend, shedding some light on the craziness of 2020. All 3 games determined in OT, all 3 won by the Avengers. The school defines Avengers as people who fight and people that don’t back down. They’re empathetic, hard working, and can go out and get the job done. This weekend our EGHS Avengers came out, fought, and showed just how clutch they could be when it all came down to the wire.
What a way to close out a whirlwind of a year. Congratulations to all and happy Thanksgiving!