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The Chariho boys soccer team hasnâ€™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 didnâ€™t fare any better last fall, turning in a 3-11-0 record at seasonâ€™s end.
Charihoâ€™s struggles could very well be coming to an end though as this yearâ€™s team features 14 seniors and slew of other talented, veteran players.
â€śSo far so good,â€ť coach Tyler Hartshorn of his teamâ€™s early season progress. â€śThereâ€™s a group of older boys that are playing very good soccer.â€ť
â€śâ€¦Thereâ€™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.â€ť
Scoring could be an issue for the Chargers this season as the team lost its top scorer from a season ago â€“ Ryan Banker â€“ and will have to get goals by committee.
â€śWeâ€™re going to have to make it more of a group effort by the scoring,â€ť Hartshorn says. â€śWeâ€™re going to possess the ball more so if we can get goals out of five or six guys theyâ€™re going to come easier and itâ€™s going to build up on itself.â€ť
Fortunately for Chariho the team has looked strong in the midfield â€“ particularly with seniors Steve LaBier, Kyle Kirby, Rob Wood and sophomore Nestor Maldonado â€“ 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 â€“ who will either play forward or midfield â€“ or by himself in a one-striker formation.
Defensively the Chargers also appear in good shape with seniors Zach Kittell and Zach Gardell â€“ each of whom are captains this season along with Tougas and LeBier â€“ 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.
â€śHeâ€™s doing really well,â€ť Hartshorn says. â€śHeâ€™s starting to be more confident, more vocal and heâ€™s coming out to the ball strong.â€ť
The Chargers may just be a little over one week into practice but already Hartshorn can tell thereâ€™s a difference with this seasonâ€™s team compared to the previous two versions.
â€śI like their work during the first part of preseason,â€ť he says. â€śTheyâ€™re on each other. Theyâ€™re the kind of group that has been playing each other way more physical than they have in the past with the understanding that itâ€™s going to make each one of them better prepared for the season.â€ť
Itâ€™s a change in play that could land the Chargers their first playoff berth in Division I since 2010.
â€śI think we have a good shot,â€ť Hartshorn says of his teamâ€™s chances to make the playoffs. â€śWeâ€™d be disappointed if we didnâ€™t make it.â€ť
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.