It would be hard to label this postseason run a coming-out party for Ellie Bishop when the player in question is up over 40 career goals in two years.
Perhaps coronation would be a better word.
Bishop looks like the new queen of Rhode Island high school soccer after a spectacular season and an even better playoff run. The sophomore had a hand in all but one of North’s postseason goals in leading the Skippers to their second consecutive state title.
“She’s insane,” senior captain Katherine Martone said of Bishop. “She does it all. She defends, she scores. She’s such a good player.”
Bishop’s arrival as a freshman last season was the catalyst for a new era at North Kingstown, as the Skippers have moved from annual contender to powerhouse. Bishop and teammate Bella Cambio played from day one as freshmen. Senior Katherine Van Gorden became a force alongside them this season. Solid everywhere else, the offensive ability bumped the Skippers up a level.
Head coach Mark D’Arezzo still remembers what he saw at tryouts last year.
“Bella and Ellie showed up and we’re like, ‘Wow,’” D’Arezzo said. “I remember seeing this little girl with a ponytail running around. I asked her what her name was and she said, ‘Bella.’ And I was like, ‘You’re doing really good. Thanks for coming.’”
The Skippers scored in bunches all season. Bishop finished with 28 goals and eight assists. Van Gorden tallied 15 goals and 17 assists. Cambio did the dirty work in the midfield and finished with four goals and seven assists.
“We just had a really good dynamic – the three of us,” Van Gorden said. “Bella to me, me to Ellie, Ellie to the goal.”
In the playoffs, Bishop took center stage. She scored two goals in a quarterfinal win over East Greenwich. In the semifinals against Chariho, she totaled four and had a hand in another, as her cross led to an own goal by the Chargers. The Skippers won 5-1.
Bishop continued to be a force in the finals. She scored on a penalty kick to break a 1-1 tie then delivered a pretty goal in the final minutes before halftime to power the 3-1 win.
“She’s unbelievable,” junior defender Valerie Auclair said.
Bishop is a multi-sport talent who plays basketball in the winter and does sailing in the spring. She also dabbles in flag football, playing competitively with a regional team that made a trip to Germany this past summer.
Slowly but surely, soccer is becoming her primary focus. She’s gotten by on athleticism, speed and aggressiveness so far. The bad news for the rest of the state is that her skills are just taking shape. The upcoming off-season will be important.
“She just committed to being a full-time soccer player this year,” D’Arezzo said.
Cambio and Bishop are among the best building blocks a team could have. The seniors will be missed when the Skippers start on another quest next fall – but those seniors will miss the show, too.
“I’m going to miss playing with [Bishop] so much,” Van Gorden said. “She’s obviously the best person I’ve ever played with. She’s amazing.”
North Kingstown is the first public school to repeat as state champion in more than 20 years. South Kingstown was the last to do it, when it won three titles in a row in 1997, 1998 and 1999. La Salle had several championship streaks in the interim, but previous public-school champs like Portsmouth, Scituate and Mt. Hope were one and done. Portsmouth came closest to a streak, winning in 2014 and again in 2016.
Interestingly, the Skippers tend to win in bunches when they do win titles. They won two straight in 1989 and 1990 and three in a row from 1993 to 1995.
D’Arezzo credited assistants Rick Storti and Beth Caromile for helping power the team’s emergence the last two seasons. Storti has been a constant on the bench, and Caromile – a former All-American at Wheaton College – came into the fold more recently.
“Our staff has been awesome,” D’Arezzo said. “Coach Storti and coach Caromile do a great job. We have a great team of coaches and a great team of kids.”