It has been a rapid decline for the Pilgrim boys’ soccer team the past few years. After a Division II finals appearance in 2007, the Pats treaded around .500 for three seasons before the bottom fell out.
A 2-10-4 season in 2011 was followed by a 3-10-2 record last year, and it got worse when Pilgrim eventually had to forfeit all of last year’s wins due to an ineligible player.
As 2013 gets started, the Pats are hoping to do what they can with a clean slate, even if it won’t be easy. They are without their only two all-division players from last year, Christian White and Jordan DeSisto, who both graduated. All-division honorable mention pick Travis Cherry graduated as well.
Throw in the fact that half the team has never played soccer at a high school level before, and it will likely be a struggle. But that’s simply the hand the Pats were dealt. They’re happy to at least have a team, which wasn’t always a foregone conclusion this off-season. Numbers are down, as just 11 freshmen have come out for the team, combined, in the last four years.
“We’ll work through it,” head coach Bill Carroll said. “We’re not expecting too much, but we can still have a good season – have fun and teach these kids a little bit of something.”
Pilgrim has six seniors on the roster, providing it with some veteran leadership, although two of those seniors have never played before.
Still, overall, there is talent. There just isn’t much depth.
“We don’t have anything coming off the bench,” Carroll said. “I told them that we need to bridge the gap between what’s playing and what’s not up to that level.”
Setting the pace for the Pats will be their three captains, seniors Aaron Edmonds and Travis Medeiros and junior Yolee Khamsomphou.
Medeiros will be one of the team’s top players, and he’ll anchor the defense from his stopper position.
“He’s an excellent player,” Carroll said.
Edmonds will serve as a forward, and Khamsomphou will play center midfield along with talented senior Devon Crespin.
“They’re both good ballplayers with the ball,” Carroll said of Khamsomphou and Crespin. “Once they click together, we’ll be okay there.”
Joining Edmonds up front is senior Pete Goudis, who didn’t play last season but did play for Pilgrim prior to that. He scored the team’s lone goal during the Warwick Vets Fall Soccer Tournament on Tuesday in a 2-1 loss to Toll Gate, and Carroll expects him to be one of the team’s primary scoring options.
Alongside Khamsompou and Crespin in the midfield are sophomore Kamron Murphy, who played quite a bit as a freshman, and freshman Matt Giuttari, the younger brother of former standout Ian Giuttari.
“He showed quite a bit in preseason,” Carroll said of Giuttari.
In the back, junior Devin Ramos and Chris Ray both played last season and are holding down those spots, while junior David Saran is moving to sweeper after playing midfield previously.
“He’s organizing very well, keeping people together,” Carroll said. “Which we need.”
Junior Sam Schoepfer is also back from last year, and he’ll help out on the defensive end.
In goal is sophomore Liam Strain, who was the back-up last year but has stepped into the starting role without an issue in the preseason.
Other players on the team include freshman Ryan DiPanni, sophomores Bryant Riess and Gabriel DiPlan and junior Sam Young. Seniors Jared Connors and Sean Kennedy are also vying for time.
And ready or not, the Pats are going to give it their best shot. They’ll be thrown right into the fire.
They take the field for the first time in the regular season on Friday at defending Division II runner-up Narragansett at 3:45 p.m.
“I’m not expecting to win too many,” Carroll said. “But as long as we conduct ourselves in a proper manner, we can still have fun.”