Six islanders make JV soccer team
The Skippers scored during the first minute of play Monday, and coach Paul Fanning said the fast start helped boost the team’s confi dence.
Fanning said the North Kingstown JV has handled the Rams over the last couple of seasons, but he added that’s partly because La Salle typically uses its JV squad as a freshman team. The Skippers, by contrast, are playing only seven freshmen on the JV team. He also has 10 sophomores and a handful of juniors on the roster.
As a result, the Skippers put a bigger and more experienced team on the field against the Rams, and they outplayed La Salle. Fanning said the team came out eager and confident.
Islanders Finn Dwyer, Ian Connors and Antonio Varrecchione are back from last year’s playoff team. Antonio was the back-up goalkeeper last year, but he will get some minutes this year as the No. 1 goalie, Fanning said. Antonio will share the role with newcomer Jarod Parkins.
Antonio’s brother, Dimitri, 15 and a sophomore, will also play this year. He wasn’t on the JV last year.
“Soccer isn’t his first sport, but he’s a good athlete,” Fanning said. “He’s been responding well.” The roster also includes Jamestown freshmen Steve Cirella and Noah Simmons.
Fanning said three other new players – Ethan Scott, Austin Lind and Alex Overly, all freshmen from North Kingstown – have been important additions to the 2012 team, which lost about half of last year’s roster due to players moving up to the varsity ranks. All three scored in the Skippers’ home opener.
But he had no problem finding talent to fill the openings. About 60 students tried out for the JV and varsity teams. Fanning said the number of students that showed up for tryouts this season was up from last year’s total. “Unfortunately, some had to be turned away,” he said.
Fanning restricts the size of the JV to 20 players so that everyone can play in every game.
The Skippers will play 13 games during the regular season. The next three games on the schedule are on the road against Shea, Portsmouth and Tolman, before the big match against South Kingstown at home on Sept. 20.
Fanning anticipates his team will make a run at the state title. The Skippers JV lost in the quarterfinals last season, after turning in a strong regular season with shutout wins against La Salle and Portsmouth. This year, they should also be headed for the postseason.
“We expect to be in the playoffs and to be one of the more dangerous teams,” said Fanning. “We have capable players, and capable substitutes in all positions. This is a young, but balanced, team. Everyone’s expectations are high.”
The big challenges, he said, will probably come from Bishop Hendricken and South Kingstown. Hendricken, in fact, turned out to be the team that eliminated North Kingstown in the playoffs last season with a 2-0 win.
North Kingstown’s longstanding rivalry with South Kingstown is fueled by the fact that the youngsters play together on club teams over the summer. But once school starts, the players stick with their own school team.
Fanning said his favorite game from last year was his first as a North Kingstown coach. It was a 2-1 loss to South Kingstown in the middle of the season. Fanning had been coaching at the Prout School, and even though his debut with the Skippers ended in defeat, the team made an outstanding effort. Fanning said he couldn’t have asked for anything more, and he felt that the players accepted him as a coach.
“They’d been playing for a little while, but they were open to my coaching.”
Fanning said the Skippers play a distinctive style marked by “a lot of passing and getting people involved.” The idea is not to fall back on a typical but low percentage play like kicking the ball up the field out of panic and hoping something good will happen. He said good things happen more often when the players who don’t have the ball are moving into position to receive a pass.
“With 11 players on the field, that calls for a lot of coordination,” he said. His goal is to see the JV make a series of five or six good passes on each possession. In the La Salle game, for example, a defender scored a goal for North Kingstown because Fanning’s style of play gave him an opportunity.
“I encourage the team to play with a purpose. I try to have all of our team involved in the attack and in defending.”