Toll Gate ran into a strong Pilgrim team on Thursday evening in an Injury Fund matchup at Warwick Vets Middle School, but the Titans showed signs that they have what it takes to be competitive in Division II this season.
The Pats prevailed in the 30-minute game, 2-0, but the taste of game action was a learning experience for the Titans, who will now go and work on their shortcomings as they prepare for league play this week.
“We came out flat,” Toll Gate head coach Michael Kenney said regarding his team’s start against Pilgrim. “It took a little while for us to get going. We’re a team that’s trying to find who’s going to play where to find the best advantage. We have to be more aggressive, and the guys knows that.”
However, the team is in great playing shape after a strong preseason. Now, it’s just the matter of getting in game repetitions.
“In the preseason, we came in great shape,” Kenney said. “We just need some more game experience.”
The Titans will be led by their three senior captains this season – goalkeeper Datyn Deasley, sweeper Connor Haley, who was an All-Division pick last fall, and striker David Roa.
Fellow senior Brandon Franco will back up Deasley at goalkeeper.
Deasley will be protected by a strong back line for Toll Gate. Connor Haley will be joined back there by senior Rich Cady, sophomore Caden Haley and junior Zach Skuce, while juniors Will Niles and Kevin Costa will battle for the other defense spot.
“Defense is probably the most experienced part of our team,” Kenney said.
Juniors Ed Pereira and Logan Heberg will be crucial at the midfield position, and Casey Darcy, Griffin Hart and Joe Silvestre are set to make key contributions, as well.
Roa will be relied upon to supply offense at forward. Fellow senior Anthony Paone could also add offense up front, as he’s capable of playing both midfield and forward.
Kenney expects Division II to be tough once again.
And Toll Gate will get tested right out of the gate with road games at Westerly (Wednesday) and West Warwick (Monday).
“Westerly is always a tough team,” Kenney said. “They’re aggressive and big. Three of our first four games are on the road, which will be a good test for us.”
Overall, Kenney expects his team to be more competitive this fall after a 3-10-2 campaign in 2016.
“I expect us to be better than we were last year,” Kenney said. “We left a lot of points on the table last year, and I expect us to finish better this season. We definitely have the talent.”