The star has had a huge impact on URI men’s soccer
There’s a reason why his head coach describes him as “a guy who you’d want to go to war with.”
At five feet seven inches, men’s soccer star Stavros Zarokostas doesn’t fit the physical profile of a guy that is a nightmare to play against on the pitch. Then he steps onto the field, and opposing teams quickly learn what they’ll be having to deal with all game long.
The winger currently sits tied for No. 13 in program history for points recorded in his career with 25 goals and 16 assists to his name. Zarokostas has been a starter since early on in Kingston, starting 15 games in his freshman campaign and appearing in 20 games total. For his career, he has 66 games played and 60 starts, a remarkable number for a player from small-town Coventry, Rhode Island.
“I try not to look at that stuff because mentally it’s a distraction,” said the senior. “But it is pretty cool to see.”
Zarokostas, who is one of three team captains, has the most points out of anyone this decade who has suited up for the Rams. The coaching staff knew he was a player they wanted, but even they were a bit surprised about the impact he’s had.
“We thought he’d have a positive impact, but I’d be lying if I said we knew it’d be this high,” said Head Coach Gareth Elliott.
Going beyond the statline, the winger has picked his moments to contribute to his team’s success. In his eight career postseason games, Zarokostas has two goals and four assists, including one in the NCAA tournament. His performance in the team’s Atlantic 10 Tournament win earned him a spot on the All-Championship Team.
That being said, his goal-scoring exploits isn’t necessarily the thing that his head coach will remember most about him.
“I just smile when I think about how competitive he is,” Elliott said. “He’s always able to play, and he’s always able to grind. We don’t do the GPS monitor, but I think he would log the most miles out of anyone.”
The 2016 A-10 Rookie of the Year is one of the rare wingers in the entire country who is willing to track back and defend. He is constantly running down the flank, either in support of his teammate defensively or with the ball at his feet. The directness is something that he emphasizes when describing his play style.
“I think I’m a quick player and very direct,” Zarokostas said. “I’m not going to be the one that gets the ball and passes it too many times. I’d rather get the ball and go right at a guy.”
He’s also a guy that has had his fair share of talks with the referee. The Coventry native has 26 yellow cards to his name during his time in Kingston, easily the most out of any player in the last four years. To him, however, it’s not because he is a dirty player.
“It’s just passion,” he said on where his aggression comes from. “My senior year of high school I didn’t get any yellow cards.”
“But ever since then, yea, there’s been a lot of cards.”
Zarokostas committed to the Rams way back in his sophomore year of high school. He wanted to stay close to home so that his family could come watch him play. His parents come to almost every home game, something he describes as “awesome” because they were busier when he was younger.
His decision came down to URI and Providence College, which is part of the reason why he treats that game a bit more differently than others.
“I always feel like I have something to prove when we play them,” he said. “It’s just an in-state rivalry, there’s so many emotions in that game. That one is a game that stands out to me.”