Three islanders prepare to play Hendricken in first round of playoffs
The first round match against Bishop Hendricken started at 6 p.m. (Scores were unavailable at press time.)
During the regular season, the JV squad played the Hawks twice and shut them out twice by the same score: 1-0.
Coach Paul Fanning said if the Skippers survive the first round, they’ll take on the winner of the Chariho and Coventry match on Tuesday, Nov. 1.
North Kingstown came up big against Chariho this season, setting the tone with a decisive 5-0 shutout in their first meeting. The Skippers won the rematch, 4-2.
If they face Coventry, the secondround showdown will be the teams’ first match this year.
Fanning said the Skippers go into the postseason with plenty of talent, plus a battle-tested goalkeeper.
“Goalkeeper Joe Dushi is consistent and experienced,” he said. And the Skippers also will rely on Jamestown freshman Connor Ferguson, 14.
“Centerbacks Tim Lynch and Connor Ferguson are strong physical players,” Fanning said. “Outside backs Quintin Mulligan and Tyler Chabot are quick and attack well.”
He is also counting on playmakers like Casey and Brandon Iannelli, the technical midfielders. Fanning described them as “skillful” soccer players and good decision makers. He also is looking for help on defense from Preston Lind and James Wilkinson.
That duo has made a habit of grabbing the ball back from the opponents.
Finally, the Skippers have four or five players good enough to start at the forward position, he said, and Fanning plans to rotate them through the game, with the most playing time probably going to Matt Kalhofer, Cameron Haley and Kyler Gallagher.
Fanning came to North Kingstown High from the Prout School, where he was senior varsity coach.
“This is my first year working with the soccer team,” he said. “I actually only took over the team a few weeks ago.”
At Monday’s practice, the coach put the squad through some calisthenics, and the exercises included a difficult “crabwalk.”
Fanning told the team he didn’t care if they did the crabwalk backwards or forwards, but the players groaned anyway.
On their hands and knees, they lined up in a row, faced one net and scuttled over the grass.
Then the coach gave them time for a drink of water. When they returned, they practiced shooting and booted the soccer balls into the net.
For the team’s three Jamestown players – all in their first year of high school competition – the soccer team’s winning season turned out to be all they had hoped, they said.
Finn Dwyer and Connor Ferguson, both 14, and Antonio Verrecchione, 15, said they knew they would be competitive.
They went out for the team expecting to win, and helped the Skippers roll up an 8-3-1 record.
All three losses came by just one goal.
South Kingstown High was the only team to shut them out. That 1-0 tally happened in the season’s first match. In the rematch, South Kingstown beat them again, but this time the score was 2-1.
The only other loss came to Central Falls. Once again, a single goal made the difference when the Skippers went down 2-1.
“I think we’re doing well,” Finn said. “We’re in the playoffs.” He plays the right outside back position on the soccer team, and also plays tennis and basketball.
Soccer, Finn said, helps with fitness and develops “quick feet.”
He didn’t remember that John McEnroe, former Wimbledon champion, also had played soccer and said it helped his tennis footwork.
Varsity coach Kyle Froberg said the Skippers rely on the Jamestown kids to keep North Kingstown competitive in Division-I play. Although he’s losing eight seniors because of graduation, the future looks bright with this junior varsity team in the playoffs.
Last year, Froberg said, he lost 11 seniors, but after a “rough” start, this team pulled together for a winning season and he expects the varsity boys’ soccer team to vie for the state title, he said.
Connor’s older brother Nick is one of the varsity soccer team stars. Connor’s also expected to come up the ranks and make the varsity. He plays inside right defense on the JV squad, he said.
“We lost a few, but our record is pretty good,” Connor said.
Antonio is the freshman goalie on the junior varsity. He’s played rec department soccer in Jamestown, he said, and he’s trained under Froberg, who’s also a Jamestown native.
“I also play basketball,” Antonio said, “but I’ve been playing goalie for a while. I’ve been told I’m pretty good at it.”
Asked what makes the best goalies, Antonio said good reflexes and good hands are important.
He had the good hands from basketball, he said, and he also expected to be in the thick of the playoffs when he joined the team.
“It was a competitive team,” he said. “I knew they were good.”