Former place kicker anchors Lions' defense

by Mike Lucas / Beacon Staff • October 15, 2014

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After being one of the last players cut on the competitive Merrimack College soccer team, Ryan Carino, now a starting center back on the Emerson soccer team, decided to test his foot skills at something new.

That new activity was football, a sport he hadn’t played since sixth grade. Carino walked on and suited up for the Merrimack football team as a kicker during his freshman year.

“I really wanted to stay in touch with the whole sports and team thing,” said Carino, a junior marketing communication major. “It was definitely different than anything I’ve ever done before.”

When juxtaposed, the differences between soccer and football are obvious, but Carino, a Stoneham, Massachusetts native, capitalized on one signifigant similarity: kicking.  

Carino said that his soccer career helped him prepare for place kicking, but there was still an important difference between the two positions.            

“Football is all about timing,” he said. “You have to do your three steps back and two over or else the ball is going to get blocked. To get it higher in the air, you have to kick it more in the middle than a soccer ball. [With] a soccer ball you can scrape the ground every time. If you do it with a football it won’t go anywhere    

Everything in football is planned out to a T, he explained, including how many steps a kicker has to take to get the most power behind his kicks.       

Carino said football didn’t capture his attention the way soccer did, but he learned some valuable lessons that he now applies to the soccer field       

“My work ethic got a lot better after football,” he said. “I really had to work at my technique for football, just working hard to try and even get into games. When I was in high school I thought, ‘I’m just going to play,’ but [since] then I’ve had to work 110 percent  just to even get into the game.”      

Despite walking onto the roster at Merrimack, a Division II school, Carino never had an opportunity to put his foot to work in a varsity game, although he did suit for junior varsity contests. However, Carino said he’s successfully converted field goals as long 48-yards during practice.  

Carino decided not to play football during his sophomore year, but kept his eyes open for potential opportunities to continue his soccer career. But it was actually his father, James Carino, who connected his son with Emerson.

James Carino, the soccer coach at Stoneham High School, ran into Jared Scarpaci, Emerson’s soccer coach, at a state tournament game last year. Scarpaci said he asked Carino how his son was doing at Merrimack, and to his surprise found out he wasn’t playing.

“I said jokingly, ‘If he’s looking to transfer, I’d love to have him,’ and we had a little laugh, and the rest is history,” Scarpaci said.      

Carino said he wanted to immerse himself into the world of marketing, and saw Emerson as a perfect place to continue on that path.       

“I really wanted to start getting involved with marketing,” Carino said. “It’s a lot easier here than it was at Merrimack, where they didn’t have a specific marketing program. Plus the school’s reputation of having good alumni and good connections was something I thought could help me.”         

Now, Carino is the Lions’ starting left center back and is currently tied for the team lead with three assists. Scarpaci called Carino his set piece specialist, and said Carino’s ability to set his teammates up for scoring opportunities off of free kicks has been a valuable part of the Lions’ offense.

On set pieces, Carino said he usually looks for the heads of forward Adam Halliday and captain Mitch Lapierre.       

“He’s a massive asset to the team,” said Halliday, a junior song writing major at Berklee College of Music, who is allowed to play for Emerson because Berklee doesn’t have athletics.  

“He has the ability to pick out the right spots and communicate with guys on set pieces. I think he does that really well.”        

Patrick Lowndes, a senior captain and starting center back, said Carino has been a welcomed addition to the Lions’ backline.       

“[Carino] is a brick wall,” said Lowndes, a journalism major. “He stops everything and he pushes up on offense. It’s great to have him.”       

Carino said he’s adapting to his new setting, and is enjoying the company of the soccer team. His new teammates, well they’re enjoying his company as well. Both Lowndes and Halliday called Carino “the man,” and a great all around guy.      

“He is your typical blue collar Massachusetts guy,” Lowndes said. “He’s a funny dude.”

Carino and the Lions will look to picked up their fourth win of the season against Eastern Nazarene on Wednesday, Oct. 15, a 2-1 overtime victory.