On October 9, University of Rhode Island men’s soccer sophomore midfielder and forward, Stavros Zarakostas, was awarded Atlantic 10 offensive player of the week for the third time during his Rhody career.
Originally born in Greece, Zarakostas moved to Coventry, Rhode Island when he was in first grade. Starting off by playing recreationally for Coventry competitive, Zarakostas switched to Lusitana FC, a premier soccer club located in Cumberland Rhode Island at 12 years old. He then continued to play for other premier soccer clubs in Rhode Island throughout the end of his high school career, finishing up at La Salle Academy, a catholic high school located in Providence. Zarakostas verbally committed to Rhode Island in 2013 during his sophomore year of high school.
Zarakostas has showcased his talent four times already this season. In the season opener against Boston University, Zarakostas scored a goal and had an assist, aiding the Rams in their 2-1 victory. Three weeks later, Zarakostas had another assist in the game winning goal against Bryant University, and a month later, the game winning goal against St. Bonaventure was netted by Zarakostas in the 88th minute. Most recently, on October 7th, Zarakostas scored the Rams only goal during second overtime in their win over La Salle University.
Hoftstra University and Providence College both attempted to recruit Zarakostas, but his decision to play for URI was made because of coach Gareth Elliott’s unwavering persistence. “I chose URI because Coach was very determined to get me,” Zarakostas said. “He always called me up, invited me to come down and hang out with the players, invited me to the camps. He was very interactive opposed to the other schools who weren’t super, super interested.”
Although there have most certainly been memorable moments to Zarakostas 2017 season, one that will be undoubtedly unforgettable, occurred during a contest against Duquesne in 2016.
“We thought going into the game that a tie would be enough to get to the A10 tournament,” Zarakostas said. “The game went into overtime, and Coach told us that a tie was not enough, that we needed to win. We were fighting hard, trying to get the win, and with two minutes left I was able to get a shot off, and it went in.” In this scenario, Zarakostas scored what is known as a “golden goal,” meaning the first team to score wins. Play stops and the game ends. This goal qualified the Rams for the Atlantic 10 tournament, and allowed them to continue on with their season.
Winning Atlantic 10 rookie of the year is no easy feat, as there are 13 teams in the conference, each with their own skilled players, aiming for one nomination. “As a freshman, I didn’t know what to expect at all,” Zarakostas said. “I didn’t know if I was going to get playing time, if I was going to travel, if I was going to make an impact. Being able to come in and help the team, that was huge, and winning rookie of the week was extra.”
Stavros Zarakostas has started in 12 out of the 13 games URI has played already this season. Of all the players on the team, he has the second most shots on goal, as well as total points scored. He leads the way in assists and shot on goal percentage.
Zarakostas and the Rams next play on Saturday on the road at Virginia Commonwealth University. They return home for their last regular season game against Duquesne on Wednesday.