Boys' soccer posts perfect season
Different year, different result. The 2007 North Kingstown Varsity boys' soccer team completed an undefeated season on Sunday with a 1-0 win over rival South Kingstown in the Division I Finals. In the last two seasons, the Skippers had not lost a regular season game, but the playoffs last year ended abruptly in the quarterfinals with a 1-0 sudden-death overtime loss to Barrington. The ending was different this time.
During the regular season, North had a record of 16-0-2 and were Division I South Champions. The only blemishes on their record were an early season 2-2 draw with South, and another draw, 1-1, with La Salle. After defeating Central Falls 1-0 at home in the quarterfinals, the Skippers were set for a rematch with La Salle at Bishop Hendricken in the semifinals.
Both teams played tentative in the first 10 minutes, but after that, the North Kingstown boys began applying the pressure. Sophomore forward Andrew Hess had a few strong runs, but only one shot that forced La Salle goalkeeper Phillip Chabot to come up with a nice save. The pressure applied by North continued to result in either deep throw-ins or corner kicks. Throw-in specialist Russell Dauksis continued to show how threatening his attempts are. His throws were the equivalent of a free kick, looking for the heads of the North forwards. All-American Brett Uttley had five corners in the first half alone. The teams went into halftime scoreless.
From the moment the secondhalf whistle blew, North Kingstown put on non-stop pressure. Led by the seniors in goal and defense, they pinned La Salle in their own half. Around the 30-minute mark, a North free kick outside the 18- yard line was popped up high for forward Billy Zile. His header was saved initially, but after the goalie lost control, Hess passed the ball safely into the net.
La Salle managed to get the ball deep into the Skippers end, but they only had one real quality chance that was headed high over the North goal. Finally, with about five minutes to play, and La Salle pressing up, a turnover found forward Billy Zile in alone on the goalie. After forcing the keeper to commit, his simple pass to goal was finished by Hess, giving North Kingstown the 2-0 lead.
On to the finals
Sunday's MetLife Soccer Classic Division I final versus South Kingstown was the proper way for the Skippers to finish their season. After dispatching La Salle, they had the opportunity to redeem the only other blemish on their record. They wasted no time. In what almost seemed to be a replay from the second half of the semifinals, North applied the pressure from the whistle. The Rebels had trouble moving the ball to midfield. All of the intensity paid off in the 31st minute when Dauksis once again showed his specialty. This time, his throw turned into a "double-header." Senior defender Ben Nadeau's first touch was a head flick to midfielder Tom Laferriere, who in turn headed the ball over South keeper Daniel Higgins.
The Skippers took a 1-0 lead and they kept the pressure on until the break.
"Nadeau is one of the best defenders in the state, but he also scored five goals in five consecutive games, so he is a threat anywhere," coach Kyle Froberg said.
The second half saw more of the same from North Kingstown, culminating in a penalty kick for midfielder Brett Uttley with about 20 minutes to play. He painted the corner, but South keeper Higgins guessed right for the initial save, and the rebound that was blasted at close range. With that save, South Kingstown came to life. They started applying pressure on the North end, but time and again, Skippers senior keeper Justin O'Connor kept the Rebels at bay.
"I told them they couldn't just show up and win on Sunday," Froberg said. "Our team had a quiet confidence going into the game and they took care of business."
As the whistle blew at fulltime, the players crowded the field in celebration.
"They were elated. Brett Uttley ran up and gave me a big bear hug," the coach said. "Some of these kids are going to go on and play in college, so this was not their last soccer game ever, but what a way to conclude their high school careers."
An undefeated season
"The championship is definitely sweeter coming on the heels of the undefeated season. This is something these kids will remember for the rest of their lives," Froberg said. "Last year I think we thought a lot about the undefeated part and we took some things for granted. This year, we weren't thinking about it. Obviously the kids were aware of it, but it was not our focus."
North Kingstown forward Billy Zile was named tournament MVP, while Zile, Uttley, Dauksis and Hess were named to the All-tournament team.
For the North Kingstown Boys Varsity soccer team, 2007 will always be remembered, where, one game at a time, they played all the way through to the end.