In 2008, Johnston High School girls’ soccer coach Tim Sprouls decided to get his team involved in the annual Apple Festival.
At this point, it’s officially a tradition.
For the fourth year in a row, the Panthers will host a game in conjunction with the festival. This season’s match-up features Johnston and Scituate and it’s set for 6 p.m. on Saturday night at the high school.
In starting the Apple Fest game, Sprouls was hoping to increase the visibility of the soccer program while also helping the North Central Chamber of Commerce bring a few more people to town for the festival’s events.
By all accounts, the game has been a success, with solid turn-outs and plenty of good soccer.
This year should be no different.
As of Tuesday, Johnston was 2-2 and flashing the potential that’s been evident since the preseason. Scituate, meanwhile, is 0-4, but the Spartans will still present a stiff challenge.
Scituate’s program has been steady over the years. In 2005, the Spartans won the Division II championship and the next year, they moved to Division I and won again.
It’s been tougher sledding in recent years. After a 2-10-4 season in 2009, the Spartans went winless in Division I last season.
Still, they’re a Division I team, and the Panthers – who play in D-III – know they’ll have their work cut out for them.
The Panthers started the season with a pair of victories. In their opener against Shea, they scored four goals right out of the gate and cruised to a 6-2 win. Leah Gravel, a freshman forward, scored four of the goals.
Johnston also won its second game, beating Hope 3-0. Gravel, Alexandra Robbins and Amanda Colombo each had goals.
After that, the Panthers dropped two straight, one against Burrillville and the other against a talented St. Raphael squad.
The team was scheduled to play on Wednesday against Narragansett and is also slated to play Friday against Central Falls.
Saturday’s game is a non-league affair, but the Panthers always view it as an exciting game. And on the field, it’ll afford them a chance to test themselves – and prove themselves – against a team from the state’s top division.