The Chariho boys soccer team hasn’t had a winning season since capturing the Division I Championship in 2009 and the past two years have been tough ones for the Chargers.
On the heels of a 3-13-2 season in 2011 the Chargers didn’t fare any better last fall, turning in a 3-11-0 record at season’s end.
Chariho’s struggles could very well be coming to an end though as this year’s team features 14 seniors and slew of other talented, veteran players.
“So far so good,” coach Tyler Hartshorn of his team’s early season progress. “There’s a group of older boys that are playing very good soccer.”
“…There’s a solid crew of seniors that if we can find goals out of several people that we should do better than we have in the past couple years.”
Scoring could be an issue for the Chargers this season as the team lost its top scorer from a season ago – Ryan Banker – and will have to get goals by committee.
“We’re going to have to make it more of a group effort by the scoring,” Hartshorn says. “We’re going to possess the ball more so if we can get goals out of five or six guys they’re going to come easier and it’s going to build up on itself.”
Fortunately for Chariho the team has looked strong in the midfield – particularly with seniors Steve LaBier, Kyle Kirby, Rob Wood and sophomore Nestor Maldonado – so far, according to Hartshorn, which will go a long way towards generating extra offense.
At striker the plan is not yet set in stone for Hartshorn, as matchups will dictate whether he features a one or two-forward attack.
In any event, Hartshorn says junior Corey Zegarzewski has played well and has an inside track to a starting spot at striker either opposite senior Dustin Tougas – who will either play forward or midfield – or by himself in a one-striker formation.
Defensively the Chargers also appear in good shape with seniors Zach Kittell and Zach Gardell – each of whom are captains this season along with Tougas and LeBier – on the back line with seniors Bruce Law, Jacob Desrosiers and Nick LoPriore.
Taking over for Joe DiPalma in net this season will be junior Gus Almeida, who according to Hartshorn has started to pick up his play as of late.
“He’s doing really well,” Hartshorn says. “He’s starting to be more confident, more vocal and he’s coming out to the ball strong.”
The Chargers may just be a little over one week into practice but already Hartshorn can tell there’s a difference with this season’s team compared to the previous two versions.
“I like their work during the first part of preseason,” he says. “They’re on each other. They’re the kind of group that has been playing each other way more physical than they have in the past with the understanding that it’s going to make each one of them better prepared for the season.”
It’s a change in play that could land the Chargers their first playoff berth in Division I since 2010.
“I think we have a good shot,” Hartshorn says of his team’s chances to make the playoffs. “We’d be disappointed if we didn’t make it.”
Chariho will have two non-league games during the preseason against South Kingstown and Narragansett before it opens up league play Friday, Sept. 6 at 7 p.m. when the Chargers host Cumberland.