WOOD RIVER JCT. — Chariho High placed five players on the All-Division II girls soccer team after enduring one of the most challenging seasons in the program’s history.
Seniors Devon DiPalma and Makayla Furcolo, junior Caitlin O’Leary, sophomore Tia Sardelli and freshman Spencer Shiels received the honor.
Division II selections are determined by a team’s finish in the league standings. More than 50 players are usually honored.
Chariho’s season was a difficult one emotionally. Senior captain Maddie Potts passed away after suffering a brain aneurysm in the Chargers’ Sept. 23 home game against Middletown.
Potts received the sportsmanship award for the team.
DiPalma was the team’s center midfielder, and a lot of the team’s play flowed through her. She was the leading scorer on the team with 10 goals.
“She was a very skilled player who oftentimes started the transition,” Chariho coach Brittney Godbout said in an email. “She was our go-to penalty-kick taker and did not miss one all season. She has a great work ethic, has great field vision and is a great role model for her teammates.”
DiPalma scored twice on penalty kicks in the finals of the Piver Cup at Stonington High on Sept. 16. Chariho beat Fitch, 3-2.
Furcolo excelled as an outside midfielder. Furcolo was adept at slowing the attack of opposing teams and putting the Chargers on the attack.
“She is one of the hardest-working players we have on the team,” Godbout said. “Makayla is very aggressive and never gives up. She always gives 100 percent, and made it very difficult for the other team to defend her.”
Goalie Caitlin O’Leary gave the Chargers an athletic presence in the net. Chariho allowed just 27 goals in 20 games, and O’Leary was a big reason why.
“Caitlin made some incredible saves this season, some of which kept us in the game,” Godbout said. “There were multiple games this season where Caitlin's saves won us the game.
“Caitlin was also a threat with her punts; she even assisted one of Spencer’s goals. Caitlin is a great leader on the field and all of her teammates look up to her.”
Sardelli was the starting center back for the Chargers, responsible for running the defense. Sardelli also used her excellent speed to chase down opposing forwards and midfielders.
“We put a lot of pressure on Tia to become the leader as she was in control of organizing the defense and moving the back line up,” Godbout said. “She did an incredible job, and I think the entire team looked up to her as a leader on the field. Her teammates could trust her and rely on her to get the job done.”
Shiels became a starter at forward after some early-season injuries to others, and responded in fine fashion. She finished with six goals and was tied for the team lead with five assists.
She was also fouled in the penalty area five times, resulting in penalty kicks for the Chargers.
“She is a quick, aggressive attacker who is very difficult to defend because of her speed,” Godbout said. “Defenders and goalkeepers often didn't have a choice when Spencer was on the attack. The only thing they could do was foul her. She has a score-at-all-cost mentality and also has great field vision. She would often be the one to chase down a loose ball and make the pass to get us the goal.”
Chariho finished 12-5-3, losing to Moses Brown in the Division II quarterfinals.