NARRAGANSETT – With the newly realigned Rhode Island Interscholastic League divisions, the 2013 boys lacrosse season kicked off with 2012 Division II runner-up South Kingstown taking on last season’s Division III runner-up Narragansett. The neighbors are now division foes in what should hopefully be a competitive D-II rivalry for a few years to come.
SK came away with a 9-6 victory in Tuesday’s initial matchup, but for a Mariner’s team that moved up from Division III to Division II this season, the effort impressed head coach Mark Chaffee.
“It is uncharted territory, so it’s going to be interesting to see how we do,” said Chaffee. “Today I was pretty happy. They’ve got a lot of guys and a lot of bigger kids than we do but I thought we held our own.
“Depth [is a concern], I can’t afford to lose anybody, I don’t have the depth to bring up guys.”
With the sport increasing in popularity and more schools starting lacrosse programs, the RIIL divisions have expanded and been shaken up numerous times over the last few years.
After a 2009 record of 3-7 and a 2010 record of 2-8 in D-II, Narragansett was moved to Division III in 2011. After a 7-5 record and a second place finish in their first year and a 12-1 record with a first place finish in D-III South in 2012, the Mariners were bumped back up to a different Division II South.
SK on the other hand moved up from D-III South to D-II South for
the 2011 season and posted an identical 9-4 record as they had the previous season in D-III, good enough for second in D-II South.
In just their second season in D-II the Rebels made it all the way to the Championship game, where they fell to undefeated East Greenwich, and this spring SK is looking to continue moving forward.
“[Expectations] are very high actually, only because we came off a good season last year [where] we ended up losing in the championship game,” said SK head coach Tom Duggan. “But the main cast of characters is still there, so they have a lot of high hopes. They’ve been working hard, the team is very tight, it’s a very well-knit team, as far as personalities go, so they’re excited.”
“Defense is brand new, all the guys on there, so we’re going to work hard with them,” said Duggan. “Keys are going to be possessing the ball; avoid turnovers and stupid mistakes.”
In Tuesday’s game Nick Zaroogian got the scoring started for SK midway through the first quarter off of an assist from senior Garret O’Dowd. Freshman Seamus Slade added an unassisted goal soon after to double-up Narragansett 2-0.
The Mariners responded though, as captain Matt McGreen twisted in a goal and freshman Connor McKnight followed suit to knot the score at two apiece.
Zaroogian and David Reilly answered with a pair of scores to once again give South a two goal advantage with 11:11 remaining in the second quarter but ’Gansett would not go away.
The two teams alternated scores - with Matt and Henry McGreen scoring for Narragansett and Slade for SK - to keep the game close at 5-4.
From there the D-II veteran Rebels would pull away, however, as a series of Mariner penalties proved costly as Chad Mitchell scored a pair of goals and Zarrogian and O’Dowd put in one apiece to stretch SK’s lead to five.
To the Mariners’ credit they closed the gap – McKnight added his second and Matt McGreen completed his hat trick – but could not draw even in the 9-6 loss.
“It looked like the first game,” said Duggan. “They’re a very young team but they showed a lot of discipline and a lot of character in their play so I’m very pleased with that aspect. Of course it’s the first game, they made some very simple mistakes but give us some time, we’ll be fine.”
“There was definitely some rust and things we got to work on,” Chaffee saud, “but in general I was pretty pleased.”