Pilgrim’s boys’ soccer team doesn’t have a ton of depth and it doesn’t have the most dominant players in the state, but it’s hoping for something else that will allow it to stay in the mix in Division II.
The Pats enter their 2011 campaign off of a 7-7-2 season a year ago in which they lost 3-1 in the preliminary round of the playoffs to Mt. Pleasant.
This year’s version looks much different than that one, as nine seniors have moved on, with the majority of them starters. Yet, the talent level is similar, and the driving force behind staying in the hunt is hard work, which will breed a consistent brand of soccer.
On Tuesday, Pilgrim defeated Warwick Vets 3-0 in its first of two games at the preseason Warwick City Championship. In the second, Pilgrim pulled an upset by defeating Division I Hendricken 2-0. It was a positive start.
“We’ve got a team that’s hopefully going to work hard,” head coach Bill Carroll said after the first game. “They did pretty well today.”
The varsity team has only 15 players including its goalkeeper, and three of them have never played soccer before.
That makes for a bit of a learning curve, but there are some established veterans who should make it easier for everybody.
Pilgrim’s strength will come up the middle, where it hopes to find consistent play all the way from back to front.
It starts with senior captain Ian Giuttari at sweeper. Joining him through that center portion is junior stopper Christian White.
“They do pretty good,” Carroll said. “They’re pretty solid.”
From there, the team has two strong center midfielders in sophomore Devon Crespin and senior captain Phil Tantimonico, a four-year starter.
At the top, junior forward Luis Pimental leads the scoring charge, along with senior captain Dan LaPlante.
“Down the center we’re probably strongest with the two center midfielders, the stopper and the sweeper, plus Luis Pimental and LaPlante up front,” Carroll said. “We’re pretty strong there.”
The other pieces are filling in nicely around that core.
Sophomore Travis Medeiros has been working as the left fullback, and junior Jordan DeSisto is handling the duties on the right side.
At midfield, the two outside starters are sophomores Austin DeSantis and Travis Cherry. Both of them were swing players a season ago.
“They’re good little soccer players, Carroll said. “But they’ve got to step up.”
Joining Pimental and LaPlante at striker is freshman David Saran.
Two others – Sam Adamo and Matt Christie – had never played soccer before until this season, but they made the team and Carroll expects them to contribute as well.
At goalie, Matt McCabe and Joe Silveira are competing for the job despite neither of them having played at the varsity level before. McCabe, in fact, has never played soccer before.
“It’s open between the two of them,” Carroll said. “Either one of them can make it. Matt’s got the size, but Joey’s got a chance too. There’s not much between them.”
Carroll also hopes to get some help from a few players on the junior varsity team, who will potentially get called up during the season.
If all goes well, Carroll expects his team to be somewhere around the middle of the pack, as it was a season ago. That being said, the win over Hendricken – even in an exhibition game – could hint at bigger things.
Either way, the Pats are going to work hard with the team that they have.
“You have to make the best with what you’ve got, and we’re going to make the best with what we’ve got,” Carroll said.
Pilgrim opens the regular season today at Westerly at 6 p.m.