Young East Club
By Alex Sponseller (Cranston Herald)
The Cranston East boys soccer team had a big season last year, clinching the top seed in Division II and advancing to the quarterfinals where it would fall 1-0 to Mount Pleasant.
The Bolts will feature a new-look squad in 2020, fielding a roster with just two seniors and plenty of underclassmen.
“We graduated 11 seniors from last year’s team which lost only two games overall. Those seniors also won the Division III title when they were sophomores, so we are losing a group that had won a lot. Now, we return a young group with only two seniors, but last year our JV team lost just once. The kids are prepared mentally. We’re young and some of these kids are varsity inexperienced, but they are talented and have played a lot of soccer, so we should be competitive again,” said East coach Richard Grenier.
The team has also been getting used to the new COVID-19 adjustments, which include mandatory mask wearing, no huddles and no throw ins.
Lenk added:“It’s definitely been tough, it’s different. But I’m excited to step up as a captain, we lost a lot of seniors so we’re going to need the underclassmen to step up.”
Although the Bolts will have a big challenge ahead in trying to make up for the lost production from last year’s All-State captain Kerin Murillo, they are confident that they will be able to get goals in a variety of ways, and may even be well-served in the long run.
“We’ll see what happens. Carlos Andrade is a junior and he saw a lot of action, we expect him to do big things up front. I’m not asking anyone to replace a three-time All-State player like Kerin Merillo. You can’t replace him. The thing is though, when we would get in a tough spot, we would always look to Kerin and try to get the ball to him, even when he was double and tripled team. We don’t have that guy this year, so we may be a little more balanced,” said Grenier.
“Last year we had a couple of All-Staters, now this year, no one will really know who our star player will be. The ball will be spread out evenly, goals will be distributed evenly which helps,” added Lenk, who is happy to also be able to enjoy his final season despite the pandemic. “I’m pretty excited, I’ve been playing soccer since I was 3 so to be able to play my last year is special.”
Grenier looks forward to seeing his club compete for a title once again, but takes satisfaction in simply being able to play at all.
“Maybe it’s because I’m beginning my fifth decade of coaching and I’m getting older, but I think the real championship is being allowed to play during this pandemic,” said Grenier. “Just being out here with the kids, being able to play, to me is winning. We are always looking to succeed and we will be competitive again, but being out here right now is the success.”
Bolts and Titans Tie!