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WOOD RIVER JCT. â€“ Thereâ€™s a strange and intangible collective that often reveals itself in instances like senior night.
Though Chariho and North Kingstown tied 1-1, it was clear to both coaches who had played the better soccer game and an unfamiliar observer may have been hard-pressed to distinguish between the team coming in 9-2 in D-I and the team coming in 2-7-2.
â€śIt was their senior night,â€ť said NK coach Kyle Froberg. â€śThey came out on fire. They were very mad about the loss Tuesday. Senior night is a special thing to these guys and they played their butts off. A lot of guys played very well for them.â€ť
â€śThey played the third best team in the state [and] only gave up one goal on them,â€ť said Charger coach Tyler Hartshorn. â€śSenior night the last three years has been huge. Last year we beat the number two team and we beat Barrington the year before that.â€ť
Chariho brought intensity from the beginning, nearly taking an early lead in the sixth minute. The Skippers were not without shots, a few missed attempts and a handful of saves by Charger goalkeeper Corey Merritt kept NKâ€™s offense at nil the entire first half. Shots thinned toward the end of the first as both defenses tightened up.
â€śWeâ€™ve been struggling with giving up goals early on in games,â€ť said Hartshorn. â€śSo we really talked about strengthening the defense. We moved Steve LaBier back into the defense to start the game [and] he played there almost the whole game.â€ť
NK came out into the second half looking like a 9-2 team headed for a top seed in the playoffs. North Kingstownâ€™s leading scorer, Evan Gaudreau, got the gameâ€™s first score eight minutes into the second half for the 1-0 Skipper lead.
A little over 11 minutes later the Chargers got a golden opportunity when a handball in the box gave Chariho a penalty kick. LaBierâ€™s initial shot was blocked by NK goalkeeper Joe Dushi but LaBier quickly knocked the rebound into the other corner of the goal, knotting the score. There were a few more chances as both sides remained intense but 1-1 remained until the final whistle.
Charihoâ€™s twelve graduating boyâ€™s soccer players have seen 3-11 (2012), 3-13-2 (2011) and 6-7-5 (2010) records in their previous seasons at the school. Though this yearâ€™s current 2-7-3 record isnâ€™t quite dazzling, they tied one of the better teams in the state on their senior night and helped their distant playoff chances.
â€śThe effort that we had was great,â€ť Hartshorn said. â€śWe got a good break with the penalty kick but we also had some opportunities on net against a good team.â€ť
NK is still heading to the playoffs as one of the top seeds but their coach sees issues.
â€śRecord wise, itâ€™s pretty good yeah but its nothing, we want to be as high a seed as we can, we have a lot of things to work on,â€ť said Froberg. â€śWeâ€™re not scoring goals at the moment, thatâ€™s a concern. We played into Charihoâ€™s hand tonight.â€ť
North Kingstown (10-2-1 Division I) secured a first-round bye in the playoffs thanks to Tuesdayâ€™s 4-2 victory at Hope and will wrap up the regular season Thursday at 7 p.m. when the Skippers host East Providence for senior night.