The best of 2022


It’s the final week of the year which means one thing … taking a look back.

As you can see, this week we are revealing our end of the year awards to our local teams, players and coaches. It is always a challenge to narrow it down to just a handful of recipients, and this year may have been the hardest one yet.

Rhode Island has one of the most overlooked and undervalued sports scenes in the country, but fortunately, that has been improving on an annual basis since I arrived here in 2018. I am very appreciative of the locals that are so passionate and so talented. This is an incredible sports community and I am thrilled to once again be able to help celebrate all of the accomplishments of our teams.

As we say goodbye to 2022, let’s also welcome in 2023. If it is half the fun that 2022 was, then we should be in for a pretty good year.

Happy New Year to all of our readers, it is a pleasure covering you.

Now, let’s reflect some. Here are some of my favorite moments of the year 2022:

I am a sucker for an underdog story, and last winter playoffs (which took place in February and March), provided plenty.

Rarely do we consider a Bishop Hendricken team to be an underdog, but both the basketball and hockey clubs were just that early last season.

The basketball team lost to La Salle in the regular season, lost twice to Classical, then was beat a third time by the Purple in the Division I Championship.

Most people counted them out of the state tournament. Sure, we knew they’d be competitive and have a chance, but the Purple were just so good and had their number three times. Well, Eze Wali and company played their very best in the state tournament and avenged those losses and got it done in thrilling fashion.

Then, in hockey, La Salle was undefeated and seemed to be the odds on favorite to roll to the title. The Hawks did not back down and beat the Rams in the semis then cruised past East Greenwich in the championship series to win.

Also, the West girls basketball team. Midway through the regular season, the Falcons were not even in the playoff picture and seemed to be going through growing pains. Then, out of nowhere, the team gelled and emerged as maybe the best-rounded team in the state. Maddie Alves was a defensive monster, Kaitlyn Antonucci was great under the basket, Maylina Cotto-Santiago was a sniper on the outside. Just like that, they wound up in the state Final Four. Incredible.

We had some electric teams competing in the spring for our schools. Our best overall team, in my opinion, was the Pilgrim boys lacrosse team.

The Pats were coming off a heartbreaking end to their 2021 spring, in which they lost in the championship game against Burrillville, a team that in reality, they probably should have beaten.

Instead of being discouraged, the Pats came back with a vengeance in 2022 and went undefeated and rolled to the championship. Pilgrim was virtually untested throughout the entire year and beat Narragansett 12-5 in the title match.

Guys like Ryan Barlow and Braxton Bragg were some of the best players in the state. Half the roster seemed top earn postseason awards and rightfully so. I said this at the time, but I think Pilgrim would have been a playoff team in Division II and even may have been a competitive team in Division I. The way it dominated Division III was something special to see.

Although I hate to celebrate against the home team, the football state championship was a remarkable story. La Salle lost to the Hawks in the regular season and the Hawks were seemingly unbeatable. Well, not only did the Rams get the win, but they ran away with it. The game was over late in the third quarter.

Games like these make you really stop and appreciate what sports are. No team is truly unbeatable, any day can be “your day”.

It really all comes down to who outplays the other on the day of, virtually nothing else matters.

Maybe my favorite story of the entire year was the Toll Gate girls soccer team.

The team lost girls like Olivia Dutra in the regular season then faced other injuries throughout the year. The Titans were basically playing with half of their starting lineup at times, but still pulled off a first-place finish and claimed the championship. Not to mention the team was in the middle of a bus accident just hours before the start of the big game. This team had every reason to fold, but it never did, and much of the same core will be back in 2023.

There are many more teams and players that I can touch on, but I would need a whole other year to hit on them all. What a year it was, and what a year we are in for in 2023.

pitch, sports, column


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