This fall, I began my fourth year covering Warwick high school sports, and I’ve seen a total of two championships from public schools (i.e. not Hendricken, which has won approximately 381 championships since I’ve been here).
Right now, not including the 2013-14 seasons, I’m witnessing a public school title only once ever year and a half. It’s been lean. Granted, Hendricken makes it difficult in sports like baseball, swimming, track or cross country for any other Warwick team to win, but the Hawks – to my knowledge – aren’t competing in girls’ sports, and Warwick has been completely shut out of those. There are no Lady Hawks to point the finger at.
So far, I’ve seen the Warwick Vets wrestling team win the state title in 2011 and the Pilgrim boys’ volleyball team win the Division II title in 2012. Those teams were great, but their success isn’t enough for the whole city. With three schools (soon to be two?) and high enrollment, there should be more.
I wrote a similar column a couple of years ago, and was rewarded with exactly zero championships after my votes of confidence. Let’s hope I don’t curse all the teams in this year’s version, too.
Without further adieu, I give you the Warwick public school teams with the best chance to win a title this fall season and bring some hardware back to a city that used to dominate the sports landscape.
Toll Gate girls’ tennis
Of all the teams with a chance, the Lady Titans have the best one. They’re 10-0 on the season, and are 61-9 in individual matches. They have one match to go, today against one-loss Narragansett – and if they can win that they will go into the playoffs as the unquestioned favorite to win the Division II championship.
They’ve already beaten second-place Westerly and Portsmouth, which is in first-place in the opposite subdivision. Led by a deep singles lineup, and above-average doubles players, the Titans are going to be tough to beat. Only two teams have taken even two individual matches off them so far.
Toll Gate hasn’t won a girls’ tennis title since it won the D-I championship in 1985.
Pilgrim girls’ soccer
The Pats have been one of the best teams in Division II for the past three years, losing a grand total of seven times in the regular season and winning at least 11 games each season.
This year, Pilgrim is near the top again, with its only loss coming by one goal to first-place Lincoln. The Pats are 8-1-1, alone in second place and have the seventh-leading scorer in the state in junior Katelyn Vieira. They’re confident, and plenty good enough to play with anybody (including Lincoln).
But in the past, postseason success has been hard to come by. Two quarterfinal losses and a disappointing semifinal loss last year are reminders that nothing is guaranteed. Still, assuming they finish the season strong, Pilgrim should have as good a shot at the title as anybody.
Pilgrim’s only girls’ soccer title came back in 2000, in Division I.
Warwick Vets girls’ soccer
The ’Canes moved down from Division I this season, and though they haven’t been as good as Pilgrim, they’ve been close. At 7-2, they’re right in the mix as well, and will get a chance to really prove themselves with a game against Narragansett on Friday and then a marquee showdown with Pilgrim on Tuesday.
If Vets can beat the Pats, it would put itself in the driver’s seat for the No. 2 seed in Division II. It also still has Lincoln on the schedule. With a deep group of players though, all with similar talent levels, Vets is steady enough to make a run.
Vets has never won a girls’ soccer title.
Toll Gate boys’ soccer
The Titans somehow lost to Pilgrim this season, but other than that they’ve been great. A victory over PCD, a tie with Mount St. Charles and, most recently, a 2-0 win over previously-unbeaten Lincoln should give the Titans all the confidence they need to believe they can play with anyone.
At 6-1-3, they’re in second place, and boast the fourth and 10th-leading scorers in the state in Josh Sandin and Jose Beltran. But those aren’t their only weapons – against Lincoln, Nathan DaCosta scored both goals.
Toll Gate’s dangerous, and if they’re playing well, they’re the best bet of any boys’ public school team in the city to raise a trophy at the end of the season.
Toll Gate’s only championship came in 1990, when it won the now-defunct Division I-B title.
Those are the big four. I didn’t include Warwick Vets football and Warwick Vets boys’ soccer because I’m not sure they have a chance to win the whole thing. They both should make the playoffs and could make deep postseason runs, but coming out on top would be a big upset. I’m not ruling it out, just saying that the likelihood of them winning is a notch below the likelihood of the other four I mentioned.
If none of them do win, and no one wins in the winter, it will have been a full two years since the last public school title.
These teams could make sure that statistic never comes up again.
Kevin Pomeroy is the assistant sports editor at the Warwick Beacon. He can be reached at 732-3100 and firstname.lastname@example.org.