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NARRAGANSETT â€“ With the newly realigned Rhode Island Interscholastic League divisions, the 2013 boys lacrosse season kicked off with 2012 Division II runner-up South Kingstown taking on last seasonâ€™s Division III runner-up Narragansett. The neighbors are now division foes in what should hopefully be a competitive D-II rivalry for a few years to come.
SK came away with a 9-6 victory in Tuesdayâ€™s initial matchup, but for a Marinerâ€™s team that moved up from Division III to Division II this season, the effort impressed head coach Mark Chaffee.
â€śIt is uncharted territory, so itâ€™s going to be interesting to see how we do,â€ť said Chaffee. â€śToday I was pretty happy. Theyâ€™ve got a lot of guys and a lot of bigger kids than we do but I thought we held our own.
â€śDepth [is a concern], I canâ€™t afford to lose anybody, I donâ€™t have the depth to bring up guys.â€ť
With the sport increasing in popularity and more schools starting lacrosse programs, the RIIL divisions have expanded and been shaken up numerous times over the last few years.
After a 2009 record of 3-7 and a 2010 record of 2-8 in D-II, Narragansett was moved to Division III in 2011. After a 7-5 record and a second place finish in their first year and a 12-1 record with a first place finish in D-III South in 2012, the Mariners were bumped back up to a different Division II South.
SK on the other hand moved up from D-III South to D-II South for
the 2011 season and posted an identical 9-4 record as they had the previous season in D-III, good enough for second in D-II South.
In just their second season in D-II the Rebels made it all the way to the Championship game, where they fell to undefeated East Greenwich, and this spring SK is looking to continue moving forward.
â€ś[Expectations] are very high actually, only because we came off a good season last year [where] we ended up losing in the championship game,â€ť said SK head coach Tom Duggan. â€śBut the main cast of characters is still there, so they have a lot of high hopes. Theyâ€™ve been working hard, the team is very tight, itâ€™s a very well-knit team, as far as personalities go, so theyâ€™re excited.â€ť
â€śDefense is brand new, all the guys on there, so weâ€™re going to work hard with them,â€ť said Duggan. â€śKeys are going to be possessing the ball; avoid turnovers and stupid mistakes.â€ť
In Tuesdayâ€™s game Nick Zaroogian got the scoring started for SK midway through the first quarter off of an assist from senior Garret Oâ€™Dowd. Freshman Seamus Slade added an unassisted goal soon after to double-up Narragansett 2-0.
The Mariners responded though, as captain Matt McGreen twisted in a goal and freshman Connor McKnight followed suit to knot the score at two apiece.
Zaroogian and David Reilly answered with a pair of scores to once again give South a two goal advantage with 11:11 remaining in the second quarter but â€™Gansett would not go away.
The two teams alternated scores - with Matt and Henry McGreen scoring for Narragansett and Slade for SK - to keep the game close at 5-4.
From there the D-II veteran Rebels would pull away, however, as a series of Mariner penalties proved costly as Chad Mitchell scored a pair of goals and Zarrogian and Oâ€™Dowd put in one apiece to stretch SKâ€™s lead to five.
To the Marinersâ€™ credit they closed the gap â€“ McKnight added his second and Matt McGreen completed his hat trick â€“ but could not draw even in the 9-6 loss.
â€śIt looked like the first game,â€ť said Duggan. â€śTheyâ€™re a very young team but they showed a lot of discipline and a lot of character in their play so Iâ€™m very pleased with that aspect. Of course itâ€™s the first game, they made some very simple mistakes but give us some time, weâ€™ll be fine.â€ť
â€śThere was definitely some rust and things we got to work on,â€ť Chaffee saud, â€śbut in general I was pretty pleased.â€ť