Expansion 2020

Renegade GK NPSL Goalkeeper Feature: Tony Billeri Utilizing NPSL Experience to Stay Ready for Big East Soccer

By Daniel Cermak/NPSL.com

Rhode Island Reds FC and Providence College goalkeeper Tony Billeri cherished his experience
in the NPSL, where he improved himself as a player while fostering meaningful relationships
with his teammates.

“It’s really good, it’s been different, a different training regiment from college and we have a lot
of fun when we play,” Billeri said. “I can take a weekend trip to New York with my teammates,
spend time with them, it’s a different style, it’s enjoyable.”

Most importantly for Billeri, however, is the chance to get game time against solid competition.
“It allows you to get game minutes, game experience, and that’s the most important thing at the
end of the day,” Billeri said. “It lets you keep playing over the course of the summer to help you
not lose your form.”

In terms of his goalkeeping style, Billeri is focused on the little things that many will not even
think would be important for a keeper, at least until you hear them.

“I try to be up-tempo, excited,” Billeri said. “I always try to get the guys to rally, get excited
about practice and make sure everyone’s training as hard as they can. I try to make it as
enjoyable and fun as it can be, when you’re training the days can get hard, but they’re the times
you live for.”

In his time with the Rhode Island Reds of the NPSL, Billeri has brought that positive attitude and
spread it to the team. That energy along with his stellar performance between the posts.

“Tony has been fantastic since joining the RI Reds program, he understands what our program is
all about,” Rhode Islands Reds FC Chairman Kabba Joof said. “We are equally very pleased that
he was able to play a lot of games this year and perform exceptionally well for the team.”

With two years of eligibility left, Billeri is completely focused on his college career with
Providence, but he also is also working towards one day becoming a professional, something’s
he’s always dreamed of.

“I guess we’re gonna find out,” Billeri said on his future as a pro soccer player. “It could be a
crazy road, but it’s hopefully going to pan out, I just have to believe that the path is coming and
I’m on the right one.”

With the focus towards a professional career in the more distant future, Billeri is getting ready
for the upcoming college season and is ready for the intensity of the Big East Conference.

“The thing about the Big East is that no game is free, it’s always going to be a fight, always
going to be a scrap,” Billeri said. “We get excited for Big East games, they mean the most to us,
and with UCONN joining, that’s another great soccer program.”

With the high level of competition in the Big East, Billeri wants to focus on consistent
improvement and utilizing that to reach their goal of the NCAA Tournament.

“Hopefully we just keep lifting our game, keep getting better, keep getting ourselves in the
tournament and keep getting ourselves in good spots,” Billeri said.

With teams like Georgetown, Creighton, and Xavier all providing threats, there are a number of
match-ups Providence could circle as the biggest of the season. For Billeri, however, there was
no debate and he knew the match he was looking forward to the most right away.

“URI, always,” Billeri said. “They beat us at our home ground last year so we have to go to their
place and get revenge.”

Billeri has had to be patient for playing time at Providence, but following the graduation of a
senior goalkeeper, he finds himself in position to fight for a starting spot. Though he’s the most
senior member of the goalkeeping depth chart, Billeri is not, and will never be taking anything
for granted.

“There’s always a battle, you’re never guaranteed a starting spot in any kind of high-level team,”
Billeri said. “There’s always competition, you just have to make sure you’re always working
hard, but at the end of the day it’s the coach’s decision, you can’t change that.”

With Billeri’s ability to instill confidence in his entire team through his leadership and his skills,
he stands a great chance to ensure he starts the 2019 college season between the posts for the
Friars.

Photos Courtesy of Rhode Island Reds

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