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EPHS soccer sides stay in place under next realignment proposal

Boys remain in Division I, girls in D-II under plan being considered

By Mike Rego
Posted 5/28/20

EAST PROVIDENCE — The East Providence High School boys’ and girls’ soccer sides are likely to stay put under the proposed realignment plans being considered by the Rhode Island …

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EPHS soccer sides stay in place under next realignment proposal

Boys remain in Division I, girls in D-II under plan being considered

Posted

EAST PROVIDENCE — The East Providence High School boys’ and girls’ soccer sides are likely to stay put under the proposed realignment plans being considered by the Rhode Island Principals Committee on Athletics for the upcoming 2020 season at least.

The lingering caveat to everything at the moment, the novel coronavirus pandemic, makes any decisions taken by high school sports officials, including the RIPCOA and Rhode Island Interscholastic League, “pending.”

Whether or not students, in fact, return to buildings  or athletics are back on their fields of play this fall remains uncertain. The RIPCOA is scheduled to meet to review and vote on the plan sometime in June.

So, if the Townies do compete come September, they’ll do so in Division I for the boys and D-II for the girls. Head coaches Tony Vieira and Angelo Pizzi, respectively, along with district athletic director Gregg Amore had input in where they would play, but the relative success recently of each program was a larger factor.

Boys’ notes

The EPHS boys’ team completed last season on the cusp of joining the upper echelon of the state’s top tier and that should hold true come the 2020 slate.

Coventry and Smithfield move down under the proposed new format, while St. Raphael and Wheeler would be bumped up to D-I. The Oakers and Sentinels combined to win just four games in the top ranks the last two seasons.

St. Raphael moves all the way from D-III into the state’s top ranks. The Saints, the reigning division champs, lost just three times in Division III the previous two falls, one of those coming to Pilgrim in the 2018 league title game.

Wheeler moves up from D-II, coming off a middling 2019 season. The Warriors, however, were the 2018 D-II champions, finishing second to North Smithfield in the regular season then defeating the Northmen in the playoff finals.

“I think it makes sense. They’re private schools that have the opportunity to go after kids without boundaries, not just in their surrounding towns, but from throughout the state,” Vieira said of the moves up by St. Raphael and Wheeler. “I feel like anybody that has that opportunity probably should play at the highest level. And it’s a good move for them because they want to compete with the LaSalles and Hendrickens, and they’re not going to do that in D-II or D-III.”

The Townies remain in D-I with returnees Barrington, Hendricken, Central, Central Falls, Classical, Cumberland, Moses Brown, LaSalle, North Kingstown, Portsmouth, Shea, South Kingstown and Tolman.

“We lost a handful of guys who were solid contributors, but we didn’t lose much from our attack. Colin Capelo is back. He’s one of the best strikers in the state. He has the speed and the skills. He’s getting D-I (college) looks,” Vieira said of E.P.’s place in D-I. “I’d be foolish to say we’re not in a good place. We have a nice crop of guys coming in and that’s going to be pretty steady over the next couple of years. The young kids coming in could feature right away and we have a good group coming up after that as well.”

Teams will play a 15-game regular season schedule against the other sides in the league. To qualify for the playoffs, squads must earn at least 14 points, three given for a win and one given for a tie. 

Girls’ notes

The EPHS girls’ team stays in D-II, where the Townies have remained very competitive the last two seasons after previously being a dominant side in D-III before being moved up during the last round of realignment.

“We agreed with Mr. Amore that we should remain in Division II. It’s going to be a competitive year this year for us. We graduated nine seniors, including our four-year goalkeeper Mia (Jackson) and Alyssa (DeOliveira), who could score from anywhere and anytime on the field. Big shoes to fill,” said EPHS head coach Angelo Pizzi.

He continued, “We essentially have to build from the back all the way up through the spine of our team. We are looking forward to it as we have some very competitive and athletic young ladies who are looking forward to taking the field this year.”

Pizzi, who after announcing his retirement at the end of the 2019 campaign, has reconsidered. He and his wife Stacie, who serves as the varsity assistant/junior varsity head coach, will return for another season this fall.

In terms of realignment, Pilgrim, which didn’t lose a regular season game the last two years, moves up to D-I. Cranston East, likewise, is up a level to D-II.

Prout, Burrillville, Scituate, East Greenwich and Lincoln High drop from D-I to the second tier, replacing Toll Gate, St. Raphael, Johnston and Lincoln School, which all move down to D-III.

As for the rest of the league, East Providence is joined by other holdovers North Smithfield, Moses Brown, Exeter/West Greenwich, Chariho, Middletown, Wheeler, Ponaganset, Westerly, West Warwick, North Providence and Mount St. Charles.

The teams will play 17 regular season games, one each against the rest of the league. The postseason format for D-II girls’ soccer is likely to stay the same. Teams must compile 19 total points through some combination of wins and draws. Sides earn three points for a victory and one for a tie.

Of note as well locally, Bay View remains in the reconfigured, 12-team Division I along with other holdovers Barrington, Cumberland, LaSalle, Mt. Hope, Smithfield, Coventry, Cranston West, North Kingstown, South Kingstown, Portsmouth and upstart Pilgrim. The state’s top tier will be reduced from 16 teams if the plan being considered is ultimately approved.

“The new teams to D-II are going to formidable. East was a D-III playoff team. Lincoln, E.G. and Prout are strong,” Pizzi said of the prospective new alignment. “Scituate was a D-I playoff team and in finals not too long ago. And the teams which remain in D-II from last year are very competitive.”

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