Valley Breeze

The North Providence Breeze 02-13-2019

The Valley Breeze Newspapers serving the Northern Rhode Island towns of Cumberland, Lincoln, Woonsocket, Smithfield, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, North Providence, Scituate, Foster, and Glocester

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12 SPORTS & RECREATION FEBRUARY 13-19, 2019 | VALLEY BREEZE | PAWTUCKET EDITION PAWTUCKET – Thoughts of playing Division I soccer in college danced in the mind of Tolman High striker Luis Blanco after he concluded a superb senior season last November by helping his school's boys' soccer team capture the state championship to cap a magical 14-0-4 record. Blanco had a handful of New England schools on his radar, from nearby Providence College and Bryant University to the University of Rhode Island, Northeastern University, and the University of Vermont. But in the end, it was a familiar face from a D-II school in New Hampshire that won over Blanco. And last Wednesday, before a small gathering of family members, friends, and faculty members inside the school's auditorium, Blanco made his decision public by signing his National Letter of Intent to Franklin Pierce University of the Northeast-10 Conference. "I chose Franklin Pierce because it was a great fit for me," Blanco said before taking his seat at a table with a couple of his individual awards and the Tigers' state championship trophy on it. "It's a really nice school and the coaching staff is great. And I'm ready; I'm excited and I can't wait to take the next step in my soccer journey." Speaking of the Ravens' coaching staff, it's led by a new head coach, Ruben Resendes, who was an assis- tant coach at Vermont for the past two seasons before accepting the FPU job last Dec. 17. Blanco, who spent four years play- ing for the New England Revolution Development Academy's youth teams before making his difficult decision to leave the Revs and spend his senior year with the Tigers, had been coached by Resendes, who also served as a scout for the organization. Blanco was one of the first people to know that Resendes was going to become the Ravens' head coach, "which was crazy, talking to him over the phone," he recalled. Resendes told him "about the process" and had Blanco visit the campus in Rindge for a workout. Everything was perfect in Blanco's eyes. "I had to make my decision (to attend FPU) within a week," he admitted. "I talked to my family about it, and once I saw my financial aid package, which was a really good package, I accepted the offer and told him I was verbally committing to Franklin Pierce." Blanco, who plans to study physical therapy, will bring a speedy, top-flight scorer to the Ravens' program. Last season, he led all Division I scorers in goals with 19 and added nine assists. Not only did that excellent perfor- mance land him First-Team All-State and D-I Lyle Perra Player of the Year honors, but that also earned him spots on the U.S. Soccer Coaches' All-New England and All-American teams, as well as a trip to Chicago last month to receive his honors. "When I found out that I won All- American (honors), it was a really big accomplishment," noted Blanco, who has yet to hear if he was selected the R.I. Gatorade Player of the Year. "I was really happy, and so was my fam- ily, my teammates, and my coaches. It really put Tolman on the map." BREEZE PHOTOS BY KAYLA PANU Above, for the first time in 41 years, TOLMAN HIGH SCHOOL was able to raise a state championship banner to its rafters, as last fall's boys' soccer team, which posted a 14-0-4 record and won the state title with a 1-0 victory over La Salle Academy, was honored with the unveiling of its banner during a ceremony before last Friday night's boys' basketball game against Shea High. Right, underneath the championship banner is a banner commemorating senior Luis Blanco's selections on the U.S. Soccer Coaches' 2018 All-American and All-New England teams. Tolman's Blanco takes shot at Franklin Pierce University After helping boys' soccer team capture state title, All-American striker signs NLI with D-II Ravens BREEZE PHOTO BY ERIC BENEVIDES Tolman High senior LUIS BLANCO gets ready to sign his National Letter of Intent to Franklin Pierce University during a ceremony inside the school's aduitorium last Wednesday. Blanco helped the Tigers win the state title last November and earned U.S. Soccer Coaches' All-New England and All-American honors this winter. By ERIC BENEVIDES Valley Breeze Sports Editor at 6 p.m. and play host to Burrillville on Friday at 6:30 p.m. "It's been a very unique season," Coughlin remarked. "We had some big wins and some tough losses, but I think we're playing our best basketball at the end. That's what we want to do." TIGERS From Page 11 Tolman adds boys' soccer team's state championship banner to gymnasium Local news. Local owners. You might think every newspaper would be like that. But they aren't. We are. 2044 Smith St., North Providence, RI (401) 231-2370 fax (401) 232-9220 Congratulations! You're Engaged! Come see the largest selection of tuxedos and accessories in RI for all your formal wear needs! Ask about our Wedding Specials Ask about our Wedding Specials Ask about our Wedding Specials

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