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With successful first half in the books, Knights focus on 2024 stretch run

With successful first half in the books, Knights focus on 2024 stretch run

With the holiday break underway, the Community College of Rhode Island is halfway to another successful season on and off the playing field.

The college’s women’s basketball team is currently ranked No. 7 in the NJCAA Division III national poll and carries an unprecedented 28-game win streak against its Region XXI rivals into the second half of the 2023–24 season while the men’s team, led by second-year head coach Marcus Douthit, remains poised for a repeat trip to the regional tournament in February.

The winter teams have continued a trend of success on the field started by the college’s fall teams, including women’s soccer, which earned its first trip to the NJCAA D-III National Championships in more than a decade. Here’s a look back at some of CCRI’s first-half highlights:

  • Women’s soccer team rose to the top of the northeast, a remarkable achievement considering CCRI not have a team in 2020 or 2021 due to the pandemic. The Knights finished 10-4-1 overall and 10-0 against their Region XXI competition, including two wins in the regional tournament to capture the school’s first Region XXI championship since 2014, and earned a berth in the NJCAA Division III Women’s Soccer Championships for the first time since 2009. As the No. 7 seed, CCRI concluded the 2023 season with a 3-3 tie against No. 6 seed Brookdale in the consolation round.
  • Given their success in the region, women’s soccer finished with six All-Region XXI selections, including First-Team selection and Co-Player of the Year Tessa Cost of Greenville, RI, who tied for the team lead in scoring with 31 points and tallied 13 assists. Catherine Beazley of Kingston, RI was one of three All-Region XXI First-Team selections and Bailey Patton of Charlestown, RI, led the region with seven shutouts as the team’s starting goalkeeper.
  • Coming off a Region XXI championship in 2022, the men’s soccer team finished 5-7-2 overall, 4-3-1 in regional play, and advanced to the quarterfinals of the Region XXI tournament. The 2023 Knights featured five All-Region XXI selections, including First-Team selections Sebastian Velez (North Providence, RI) and Cam’ron Aldana (Providence, RI). Velez led the team with nine goals – including two game-winners – and 20 points despite playing only nine games while Aldana stepped up as a sophomore leader on defense, starting 11 of the team’s 12 games.
  • Volleyball came within one victory of a historic regional three-peat. The two-time defending Region XXI champions fell short in the 2023 regional tournament title game against Northern Essex, but finished 11-6 overall with a young roster that included nine newcomers and only two players from last year’s championship team.
  • Led by former assistant and newly-assigned head coach John Dao, the Knights found their footing in mid-October, winning six of their final seven regular-season matches to earn the No. 3 seed in the Region XXI tournament and seven of their final 10 overall, including the postseason. This year’s 11-6 finish marked the sixth time in the last seven seasons the volleyball team has posted a winning record.
  • Women’s basketball, the two-time defending Region XXI champions, entered 2023–24 aiming for a regional threepeat. The Knights closed the first half at 7-2 overall, 6-0 in regional play, and ranked No. 7 in the latest NJCAA Division III national poll. CCRI is also ranked second in the nation in field-goal percentage (45.9) and third in points per game allowed (44.2).
  • Under sixth-year coach Doug Haynes, CCRI has won 28 consecutive games against Region XXI opponents, a streak that dates back to the 2021–22 season. Despite losing five key contributors from last year’s team, the Knights are again thriving in regional play thanks to the leadership of sophomore co-captains Alyissia O’Hagan (Woonsocket, RI) and Nysia Ortiz (Providence, RI) and a talented freshman class that includes nine newcomers.
  • The men’s basketball program is also beginning to build a new tradition of its own under Douthit, the former Providence College standout who took over the reins shortly before the start of the 2022–23 season. With 12 freshmen on the roster, the Knights are currently 4-5 against their Region XXI competition and remain in the hunt for one of the top eight seeds in the regional tournament, which begins in February.
  • Led by the freshman duo of Jansel Hayes (Providence, RI) and Henry Robinson (Pawtucket, RI), the Knights are 21st in the nation in scoring and are ranked eighth in three-point field goal percentage (37.3). Hayes is averaging a team-high 17.6 points per game and shooting 42.4 percent from the field while Robinson is averaging 13.5 points and 5.7 rebounds.

What to watch for in 2024:

  • Women’s basketball has 16 games remaining on its schedule, including nine regional games, with a chance to go undefeated in Region XXI for the second year in a row and win its third consecutive regional title. Northern Essex and Massasoit remain the Knights’ only true obstacle to another Region XXI championship; CCRI beat both teams in the first half and plays Northern Essex again on the road on January 23 in a pivotal Region XXI showdown and hosts Massasoit on February 22 in its next-to-last regular season game.
  • The men’s basketball team is hoping for a second half surge similar to its late-season push in 2022–23; last year, the Knights won eight of their final 12 against their regional rivals to earn the No. 8 seed in the Region XXI Tournament. Tuesday’s loss to Massasoit is a bump in the road, but the Knights close the season with 12 of their 14 against regional competition, which will be their chance to secure a spot in this year’s regional tournament.
  • After a 15-9 finish in 2023, CCRI’s softball team opens the 2024 season on the road against SUNY Adirondack with a roster that features 14 freshmen and three returning sophomores. The Knights remain the only team in Region XXI and therefore will play its entire schedule against schools from Regions 3, 15, and 19 and will be eligible for the Region 15 Tournament at the end of the year.
  • Last year, the baseball team more than doubled its win total from 2022 and advanced to the Region XXI championship game against Northern Essex. This year’s team opens the season March 11 in Florida against Oakton Community College of Illinois. CCRI is poised for another competitive season among six rival schools in Region XXI and will challenge two-time defending champion Northern Essex, which is 35-1 in its last 36 regular-season games in Region XXI with its only loss coming to CCRI in April.

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