Skippers will use off season to find key to play-off finals next year
The six islanders on the North Kingstown High School junior varsity boys’ soccer team would not mind making another run at the South Kingstown Rebels in the semifinals with the hindsight they have now.
The Skippers just could not figure out the key to scoring the go-ahead goal against S.K. this season. The two regular season matches ended in 1-1 and 2-2 ties, respectively, so the Skippers liked their chances against the Rebels going into the semi-final match.
The team had only two losses this season. Both were 1-0 losses – one against Barrington and the other against LaSalle, but it was the ties against South Kingstown that haunt them.
As the players analyzed the single goal losses, they felt like North was in both games until the end.
“LaSalle was a lot faster and more talented than we were and they had better ball skills than we did,” goalie Owen Heath said. “But, we played them well.”
“We could have won the game against Barrington, but they got a lucky break when a ball hit a rock and bounced over the goalie’s head,” defender Nick Fay said. “But, our toughest games were against South.”
The Skippers controlled the first half of the semi-final game, taking a 1-0 lead and a little optimism into half-time.
“But in the second half, they just wanted it more and we just didn’t keep up,” Heath said.
North lost the game, 3-2, in penalty kicks.
The Skippers played their first five games of the season before the loss to Barrington and then went five more games before the loss to LaSalle in the final game of the season.
Overall, Heath said, his first experience with high school soccer was a positive one.
“It was a lot different than middle-school soccer,” he said. “Things happened a lot faster and you had to make quicker decisions.”
He said the team’s strength was having a good defense and he will work on making that defense even stronger during the off-season.
“My height is definitely my strength, but I will work on my leg strength and kicking ability for next year,” he said.
Head coach Kyle Froberg said Heath is full of raw potential.
“He is a super nice kid and one of the most improved players on the team this season,” he said.
The Skippers could have used some of the offensive power of Ellerbe in the play-offs, but he was sidelined by a fracture after overextending his leg and then being hit from behind on the same play.
Ellerbe is a second-year player on the team, and said he has seen his level of play increase dramatically since joining the high school team.
“I have definitely improved my endurance,” he said.
As the only Jamestowner on the team last year, he said he was glad to have fellow islanders playing alongside him this year.
“It was really hard and nervewracking last year adjusting to playing with a bunch of people that I had never played with before. I really had to step up my game,” Ellerbe said. “This year, I was a lot more relaxed. I knew a lot of people and had a year of experience.”
Although Ellerbe was injured, Froberg said until that point, he had been the “go-to guy” up front with islander Nick Ferguson.
“We had the Jamestown strike force up front with those two,” Froberg said. “Christian is tough as nails, and Nick has great speed and loves the game. He actually played a couple varsity games for us this season.”
Islander Nick Fay joined Jamestowners Josh Sheehan, Nathan Lambert and Ferguson as first-year players on the team.
Fay was unsuccessful in making the team as a freshman, but a strong work ethic last winter paid dividends with not only a spot on the team, but a lot of playing time as well.
“After I didn’t make it last year, I played with a South County team in the fall and practiced with them indoors all winter in Warwick,” he said.
The indoor practices helped hone a skill that was already one of Fay’s strengths.
“I like the mental part of the game – passing in triangles, being able to make plays, anticipating what is going to happen next,” he said.
He plans to play through this winter as well to keep up the physical part of his game.
“If you stop for even a month, you lose so much,” he said.
Froberg said Fay brought a lot of speed and good size to his position.
“We are losing 11 seniors on varsity this year, so we look forward to seeing some of these kids come up next year,” he said.