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After a reasonably successful 2012 campaign where they finished the regular season tied for fifth in Division I, the North Kingstown boys soccer team has returned to the pitch for 2013 with the goal in mind that, as good as last year may have been, this year will be better.
â€śWe were decent last year, playing on all cylinders and then we ran into Hendricken,â€ť said Skippers coach Kyle Froberg. â€śThatâ€™s how it goes.
â€ś[Our] number one [goal] is to win a state championship and then how we do each game. Try to win every game or at least try and get some result, a tie or a win, and then advance further. We need to get back to the finals. Thatâ€™s our ultimate goal.â€ť
Though it is still early in the year, the Skippers could very well have a squad capable of making that deep run they were on the verge of last fall.
North returns a core group of 15 seniors that will feed off of past experience, but also added an influx of new talent to help balance out the roster.
â€śI think some of our guys are a bit mentally stronger,â€ť Froberg said of the improvements from last yearâ€™s squad to this yearâ€™s. â€śWe have 15 seniors on the team, so itâ€™s good leadership with that, but we also have some real good up-and-coming younger guys and theyâ€™re just filling right in and doing real well. The mental preparation and how we approach the game is going to be a bit different this year.â€ť
Given the number of returning players and the number of new players ready to step in, depth â€” as it can so often be in high school sports â€” will not be an issue for the Skippers.
Rather, the overabundance of capable players will be Northâ€™s greatest asset, allowing Froberg and his staff to play with multiple combinations and have the possibility of employing a number of different styles on the field, something they have gotten away from in recent years.
â€śHaving so many guys at so many different position, what the right combinations are going to be to put in, thatâ€™s going to be a struggle for this coaching staff,â€ť said Froberg. â€śJust to find out who plays well with what and hopefully we donâ€™t have much of a drop off when we switch out guys.
â€śWe share the ball well, which is great. Sometimes we key on one or two people that can score goals for us, thatâ€™s been our M.O. the last few years, but we have a lot of guys that can produce this year.â€ť
While players like Shane and Casey Iannelli, Evan Gaudreau, Matt Pazienza and Tyler Chabot will be expected to play pivotal roles for the Skippers this fall, Froberg is cautious when reflecting on who will carry the mantel this year for North.
â€śWe have so many guys, to single out one would be tough,â€ť Froberg said. â€śâ€¦Thatâ€™s the big thing. I want production out of everybody, from our keeper all the way up.â€ť
Just one week remains for the Skippers before they take the field for their first official game, but they have a pair of contests to tune up for the season prior to the opener.
North will play an Injury Fund game Thursday at 5:20 p.m. against Narragansett at South Kingstown High School, and will follow it up with a non-league contest Tuesday at 3 p.m. at East Greenwich.
Three days later the Skippers will open the regular season on the road against last yearâ€™s championship runner-up, La Salle, Sept. 6 at 7 p.m.