Vets off to roaring start in D-II
'Canes have matched win total from last three years
The seniors on the Warwick Vets girls’ soccer team came into this season with four career wins.
In just two weeks, they’ve already matched that.
The Hurricanes beat Classical 3-2 on Tuesday for their fourth win in four tries this season as they’ve made the move from Division I to D-II. Vets is the only undefeated, untied team in the division and is sitting in first place.
There’s still a long way to go and the schedule hasn’t been too tough so far.
But the Hurricanes – with good reason – are smiling.
“They’re working hard and they’re building off the positive,” said head coach Fred Schweizer. “They needed some self-confidence and I think that’s given them the boost that they need. It’s one day at a time, one game at a time.”
The ’Canes started their season with a bang, beating North Smithfield 5-2. If that wasn’t enough of a confidence boost, they returned to the field last week and rolled Cranston East 7-0. Last Thursday, Vets topped a strong Burrillville team 2-0.
The 3-0 start worked wonders.
“I think today versus the first one or two games, it’s a different attitude,” Schweizer said after Tuesday’s win. “They communicate more, they’re working together well as a team. Not that they didn’t do that in the beginning, but you see a different swagger. That comes from confidence and the fact that they’re starting to believe in themselves moreso every day.”
Tuesday’s game against Classical provided another boost. The ’Canes got goals from Madison Bastan, Casey Bennett and Tara Medeiros and used a strong defensive effort to keep Classical star Jenny Mencos from single-handedly bringing the Purple back.
“I’m proud of the way they dealt with the adversity this week,” Schweizer said. “We saw Burrillville last week and that was a battle. We come back today and we go against a great player from Classical. She’s incredible. You give up a couple of goals, they’re pushing. Like I told them after the game, I’m proud of the fact that they battled and didn’t give up. It’s easy to hang your head when you give up a goal.”
Vets took a 1-0 lead in the 12th minute. Kelsey Gray lofted a cross from the left corner into the box, where Classical goalie Adrianna Costa tried but failed to catch it. Sloan Kinney hit a shot that Costa deflected, and Bastan knocked in the rebound.
In the 30th minute, Vets added to the cushion. Kinney hit a cross from the right side that bounced to Bennett. She punched it in for the 2-0 lead.
The early goals continued a trend for the ’Canes. They’ve totaled 17 goals this season and nine different players have scored.
“We’ve spread the wealth,” Schweizer said. “We don’t necessarily have one consistent goal scorer, which is a good thing. In this game, you can’t rely too heavily on one player. When we played Cranston East, we scored seven goals and six different girls scored. That has helped us a lot in terms of having that diversity and the ability to spread the ball.”
They would need it one more time. After Lauren Almonte mis-fired on a penalty kick early in the second half, Mencos put her team right back into the game with a goal in the 51st minute. Just two minutes later, Classical nearly struck again, but a shot skipped wide of the goal.
The ’Canes responded to the challenge. Katelen Pick – who finished with 15 saves – made a key stop in the 69th minute. Five minutes later, Medeiros got loose in the box and buried a shot to put Vets back in front by two goals.
Mencos scored another goal with just two minutes left, but Vets held strong as the final seconds ticked away.
“We miss a penalty kick, then all of a sudden they’re back within a goal,” Schweizer said. “You never know coming into a program that’s had such bad luck, such struggles, how they’re going to react to things like that. They reacted exactly as I would have hoped.”
And the result was another victory. The four-win total is already better than any Vets girls’ soccer team since 2008. Two of the wins have come against winless teams – Classical and Cranston East – but it’s still been quite a start.
“My only expectation is that they get better from one day to the next, one practice to the next, one game to the next – and don’t get ahead of themselves,” Schweizer said.
The next challenge should be one of the biggest as 3-0-1 Scituate comes to town on Thursday for a 4 p.m. game.
“This is a big week – Classical today and then Scituate on Thursday,” Schweizer said. “I told them, ‘Enjoy this and then it’s back to work.’ We’ll see what they throw at us and do the best we can.”