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NORTH KINGSTOWN â€“ As tends to happen in season openers, a tone was set for the North Kingstown boy soccer team two weeks ago when they opened the year against LaSalle.
The Skippers lost that day, 3-2, yielding three unanswered goals to the Rams before clawing back into the game late. The loss sparked a defense that has not yielded a goal since, reeling off three straight wins following their 2-0 decision over Tolman Monday night.
â€śA shutout is always good,â€ť said Skippers coach Kyle Froberg. â€śThatâ€™s where we were trying to concentrate after the LaSalle game. We gave up three goals, way too many goals for us, so just trying to concentrate on being more solid defensively and we were.â€ť
It was not long after the opening kickoff that the Skippers seized control of the contest, but it was the offense, not the defense that stepped up for North in the opening 40 minutes.
They had a number of opportunities to blow the game open early, getting shots towards the net from all over the field. It took until the 25th minute to finally convert, however, as Evan Gaudreau buried the first of his two goals in the contest off a centering feed from Alex Overly, giving North a 1-0 lead.
â€śWe knew what to do,â€ť Froberg said. â€śWe could knock the ball around fine. We just didnâ€™t want to press too much. We had Evan in behind people, got Casey [Iannelli] behind and switching the ball. That was kind of key for us to put more pressure on them.
â€śâ€¦I donâ€™t mind who scores as long as we do score. If it comes from the same guy or different guys, thatâ€™s fine. Weâ€™ve had pretty good diversity in guys contributing either assists or goals and getting guys into the game, so weâ€™re getting production from everybody, but itâ€™s good to see Evan step up to get two goals. Easily could have had three tonight.â€ť
For all their effort, however, the Skippers only got the one in behind Tiger goalkeeper Adam Ghazal in the first 40 minutes. With such a slim lead, regardless of how many more chances North might have had than Tolman, the game was just one bad break from falling out of the Skippersâ€™ favor.
As the game moved into the second half and the Tolman offense began to find their own flow, that was when Northâ€™s defense stepped up to take control of the game.
â€śI can mix around, rotate five or six guys in the back and really not lose too much,â€ť Froberg said. â€śAll the guys can kind of play different roles, center back or outside back and Joe [Dushi] has stepped up his game in goal.
â€śWeâ€™ve organized a bit better defensively. It starts with our midfielders, too. Make sure we can move in and move out, guys can fill in and do the job.â€ť
The Skippers continued to shut the Tigers down through the final 40 minutes. After Gaudreau came up with his second goal of the contest in the 55th minute, North went on defensive lockdown, controlling the ball as they had in the first half, to keep their shutout streak alive.
Just as the opener against LaSalle set the tone and sparked the Skippersâ€™ defense, the recent win streak has done the same for the team as a whole as they prepare for this weekâ€™s marquee matchup, a Thursday night rivalry game against South Kingstown. It will be the only time North and South will play this season.
â€śTo go into the South game, theyâ€™re playing well and weâ€™re playing well, so itâ€™s going to be a good game,â€ť Froberg said. â€śTheyâ€™re always tough at their home field. Itâ€™s a bit narrower, itâ€™s a different field. They always play us well and seem to get the upper hand the last few years, so definitely looking forward to that.â€ť
Thursdayâ€™s game against the Rebels will be played at Curtis Corner Middles School at 6 p.m.