The Shea boys' soccer team will play Cumberland in the RIIL Division I boys' soccer playoffs this week. PHOTO BY ERNEST A. BROWN.
Itâ€™s less than an hourâ€™s drive to Rhode Island College, the University of Rhode Island, and Roger Williams University, but starting tomorrow and continuing for the next two weeks, several local high school soccer, girlsâ€™ volleyball, and field hockey teams will begin their long roads towards state championship glory.
The seedings for these fall sports came out on Saturday, and while a lot of games arenâ€™t etched in stone (especially in the preliminary-round games in boysâ€™ soccer and with the threat of Hurricane Sandy hitting the area today and tomorrow), hereâ€™s a look at the assignments of the local teams.
Shea has been to the Division I finals in each of the last two seasons, only to come up short. Will this be the year the Raiders break through and win their first title since their Division II state title in 2007?
The team to beat in the Division I field is unbeaten Barrington (10-0-4), a team that prides itself on playing exceptional defense (just eight goals allowed in 14 games), but looking to surpass the Eagles is a group of talented teams that contains third-seeded Central Falls (9-2-3) and the fifth-seeded Raiders (8-3-3).
The Raiders will host 12th-seeded Cumberland (4-10-1 and a 4-0 â€˜play-inâ€™ winner over Hope on Saturday night) in the preliminary round on either Tuesday or Thursday at the McKinnon-Alves Complex, and also playing a prelim against each other is eighth-seeded (5-5-4) and ninth-seeded East Providence on Thursday at 5 p.m. at McKinnon-Alves.
The quarterfinals are Saturday, and the Warriors will host the winner of the prelim pitting sixth-seeded South Kingstown and 11th-seed Central. The Shea-Cumberland winner will visit fourth-seeded Portsmouth, and the Tolman-E.P. survivor takes on the top-seeded Eagles.
In Division II, third-seeded Lincoln (10-3-2) and seventh-seeded Mount St. Charles (7-5-3) are the local squads. The Mounties will host 10th-seeded Providence Country Day in a preliminary rounder on either Tuesday or Thursday at 3:30 p.m., with the survivor taking on second-seeded Narragansett in the quarterfinals on Saturday.
The Lions, meanwhile, have a bye into Saturdayâ€™s quarters, where they will welcome the winner of the prelim pitting sixth-seeded Moses Brown and 11th-seeded Coventry to Chet Nichols Field for what is expected to be a 7 p.m. game.
Division III could see a battle between northern R.I. rivals North Smithfield and Burrillville in Saturdayâ€™s quarterfinals. The Northmen (10-4) are the fourth seed and will host the winner of the prelim (slated for either Tuesday or Thursday) pitting the fifth-seeded Broncos (7-3-4) and 12th-seeded Ponaganset (4-9-1).
Davies (8-5-1) is also the sixth seed in the tournament and will host 11th-seeded Johnston in an opening-round game this week. The reward for winning that contest is a quarterfinal-rounder on Saturday against the third-seeded Prout School.
The Division I semifinals are Tuesday night at Cranston Stadium, while the following night, the Division II semis are at East Greenwich High and Division III games back in Cranston. The state finals are on Saturday, Nov 10 at RIC with the Division I game at noon, Division II contest at 2 p.m., and Division III match at 4.
Cumberland kicks off the local action on Tuesday in the Division I tournament. The 12th-seeded Clippers (3-8-3) will visit fifth-seeded Bay View for a 3:30 p.m. preliminary-round duel, and if they score the upset, they will face fourth-seeded North Kingstown in Thursdayâ€™s quarterfinals.
The best chance for a local state champion in this sport may come from Division II, where three of the top five teams reside in this area â€“ third-seeded Lincoln (9-2-3), fourth-seeded Mount St. Charles (8-5-1), and fifth-seeded North Smithfield (7-4-3).
The Northmen will host 12th-seeded Classical in a prelim on Tuesday at 7 p.m., and a win there would set up a quarterfinal-round showdown between N.S. and Mount on Thursday at 3:30 p.m. at the Mountiesâ€™ lower field.
The Lions, like the Mounties, earned a bye into Thursdayâ€™s quarterfinals, and they will host the winner of the prelim between sixth-seeded Tiverton and 11th-seeded Burrillville (5-7-2) at a time to be determined at Chet Nichols Field.
In Division III, the four preliminary-round games will all feature teams of local interest, with the big game of the bunch is Tuesdayâ€™s 5 p.m. battle of Pawtucket between sixth-seeded Tolman (5-9) and 11th-seeded Shea (10-3-3) at the McKinnon-Alves Complex.
Seventh-seeded St. Raphael also hosts 10th-seeded Mount Pleasant before the Tolman-Shea clash on Tuesday at 3:30 p.m., and also tomorrow, eighth-seeded Woonsocket entertains ninth-seeded Rogers on Tuesday afternoon at Barry Field, and 12th-seeded Davies (8-7-1) pays a visit to fifth-seeded Chariho.
In the quarters, which will be at a date and time to be announced, third-seeded North Providence will await the winner of the Tolman-Shea duel. Second-seeded West Warwick will get the Saints if they win, top-seeded Middletown will welcome the Woonsocket-Rogers survivor, and fourth-seeded Moses Brown will face the other preliminary-round winner.
The semifinals are on Thursday night, with the Division I games at East Greenwich, Division II at Cranston Stadium, and Division III at the Gaudet Middle School complex in Middletown. Like the boysâ€™ finals, there will also be a tripleheader on Sunday with the same schedule (Division I at noon, II at 2 p.m., and III at 4 p.m.).
Two of the favorites to claim the Division I title this year are Mount St. Charles (13-2) and East Providence (12-3), the top two seeds from the North, but before they can head to URIâ€™s Keaney Gymnasium for the Nov. 7 semifinals, they have to get past this weekâ€™s quarterfinals.
On Thursday, the Townies will host either Chariho or North Kingstown, who both still have one matchup left in their regular seasons tonight, and on Friday, the Mounties will entertain whoever doesnâ€™t land the Townies the night before.
Three teams with excellent opportunities to play for the Division II title are Division I-North foes Tolman (15-3), North Smithfield (15-3), and Cumberland (14-4).
The Tigers and the Northmen have already locked up byes into the quarters, but the Clippers will have to host Westerly in a preliminary-round test on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. Central Falls (10-8) is also in the mix and have a Thursday night game in West Warwick against the Wizards.
The C.F.-West Warwick winner will then pay a visit to Tolman in the next round, which begins a week from today. The Northmen will also entertain the survivor of the East Greenwich-Tiverton prelim, and a Cumberland victory sends them to Cranston to clash with Cranston West.
The Division II semifinals are also at URI on Thursday, Nov. 8.
Shea (10-5) is the areaâ€™s lone representative in the Division III tournament, and the fourth-seeded Raiders will have a quarterfinal-round game at home against fifth-seeded Masters Academy (8-7) a week from today at 5:30 p.m. The winner will then journey to Johnston on Thursday to play the top-seeded Panthers.
The championship matches are set for Saturday, Nov. 10 at URI, with the Division III contest at noon, the Division II game at 2:30 p.m., and the Division I match at 5.
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The last time Burrillville captured a state title was in the mid-1980s when the Broncos were the Division Iâ€™s dominant team from 1984-87.
The Broncos, who were 15-0-1 in Division II play, could return to glory this week. They are the No. 1 seed in the tournament and have a bye into the semifinals, where they will face the winner of Tuesdayâ€™s 4 p.m. quarterfinal-round contest in the obscurity of Wood River Junction between fifth-seeded Cumberland (7-4-5) and fourth-seeded Chariho (9-5-2).
In Division I, Lincoln (7-8-1) is the sixth and final seed and faces a tough quarterfinal-round test today at 3:15 p.m. at the Faxon Farm facility in Rehoboth, Mass. versus the third-seeded Lincoln School (12-1-3).
On Thursday, the Division I semifinals will take place at Cranston Stadium, and the Division II semis will be held at East Greenwich High. The state championship games are set for Sunday at Roger Williams, with the Division I game at 1 p.m. and the Division II contest at 3.