WOOD RIVER JCT. – There’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.
“It was their senior night,” said NK coach Kyle Froberg. “They 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.”
“They played the third best team in the state [and] only gave up one goal on them,” said Charger coach Tyler Hartshorn. “Senior night the last three years has been huge. Last year we beat the number two team and we beat Barrington the year before that.”
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 NK’s offense at nil the entire first half. Shots thinned toward the end of the first as both defenses tightened up.
“We’ve been struggling with giving up goals early on in games,” said Hartshorn. “So 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.”
NK came out into the second half looking like a 9-2 team headed for a top seed in the playoffs. North Kingstown’s leading scorer, Evan Gaudreau, got the game’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. LaBier’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.
Chariho’s twelve graduating boy’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 year’s current 2-7-3 record isn’t quite dazzling, they tied one of the better teams in the state on their senior night and helped their distant playoff chances.
“The effort that we had was great,” Hartshorn said. “We got a good break with the penalty kick but we also had some opportunities on net against a good team.”
NK is still heading to the playoffs as one of the top seeds but their coach sees issues.
“Record wise, it’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,” said Froberg. “We’re not scoring goals at the moment, that’s a concern. We played into Chariho’s hand tonight.”
North Kingstown (10-2-1 Division I) secured a first-round bye in the playoffs thanks to Tuesday’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.