We’re in the thick of the playoffs and a number of our teams are shining. Here is where we stand with our clubs as of Tuesday morning.
This past weekend we got our first state championship when the Bishop Hendricken cross country ran to another title. It was an expected result, to be honest, but the Hawks continue to be New England’s best team and one of the best in the nation.
It’s impressive, this team just churns out runners fall by fall. It doesn’t matter if they have an individual state champion, or even someone in the running. Hendricken is just so deep and boasts such strong numbers. It is arguably the best sports team in the state at the moment.
The Toll Gate girls soccer team won a 4-3 thriller over Classical to punch its ticket to the Division III title game this Saturday. The Titans went up 3-0, saw the Purple roar back to tie things, then got the game winner in the final three minutes.
The Titans overcame three big injuries in the preseason to finish in first place and now reach the finals. Toll Gate will probably be considered the favorite, which is remarkable considering the hit in talent it took. Kara Yelman scored a hat trick on Monday and has been a force for Toll Gate. What an exciting year this must have been for her. She got her opportunity to be a go-to player and she has excelled from start to finish. A championship win would be the ultimate way to cap off the season.
The Cranston West football team beat Woonsocket 21-18 in a great game in the Division II Quarterfinals last week.
Marcus Chung is no longer under the radar … he is arguably the state’s best player and showed it last Friday by scoring three touchdowns and turning in an electric performance.
When West had a couple of down seasons, he was always a bright spot and a player that always seemed to be on the brink of a massive breakout. We got that this season and he has been the biggest reason why West is on the verge of a Super Bowl appearance.
Portsmouth will be tough, especially on the road. It will take a big-time performance for the Falcons to get this one, but if Chung plays the way he did last week, West will have plenty of opportunities to score points and get the job done. I don’t have a score in mind, but I like West in this one. Chung has too much momentum.
The Hendricken football team has its semifinals matchup against Central. The Knights nearly got the win last fall and had a chance to tie the game in the final minute this regular season.
The Knights are a tough stylistic matchup for the Hawks. Central has a great rushing attack and is fantastic at controlling the clock. The two teams have similar philosophies and it seems like they’re each other’s toughest foes.
However, the Hawks have the experience and the better defense in my opinion. I expect another close matchup that goes down to the wire, but like the previous meetings, it will be the Hawks that get the job done. La Salle is facing North Kingstown on the other side of the bracket and I like the Rams. I think we’re in for another Hawks-Rams matchup. Surprise, surprise.
The Hendricken boys soccer team played its semifinals match on Wednesday against top-seeded North Kingstown. The Hawks surprisingly have been forgotten it seems in Division I, despite being one of the most competitive teams.
The Hawks lost to the Skippers in a thrilling 5-4 decision earlier this season, and I don’t think an upset would be as shocking as some others believe. Hendricken is in this thing.
The Toll Gate boys also played their semifinal matchup in the Division IV bracket. The Titans were the second overall club, but went unbeaten in league play this regular season. Ties are what prevented the first-place finish, but make no mistake about it, the Titans were the best team in the division when at full strength.
All signs point toward a Toll Gate-Scituate matchup. The teams tied earlier this fall, so this Sunday’s state title game could be another fun one.
We had two notable clubs come up short in girls soccer.
Pilgrim was upset by Chariho in the quarterfinals by a 1-0 score. The Pats will one day break through, they have to, but it was another tough ending to a promising season. The Chargers have all of a sudden shaken up the state as they went on to beat North Kingstown in penalty kicks in the semis. Chariho beat the state’s best two teams, and is now a new force.
The top-seeded Johnston girls fell 2-1 to Providence Country Day on Monday in the Division IV semis. The Panthers were on a roll and beat PCD 3-1 earlier this year, but PCD came out firing and took a quick lead to set the tone the rest of the way.
Finally, we had a few clubs competing in the unified volleyball state tournament. Unified sports have continued to grow in Rhode Island which is great to see. I’m thrilled to see these kids have the opportunity to make friends, have fun and learn a sport while being part of a varsity team. It’s always heartwarming to watch.
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