“SBy Chris Boccia ’17
Reflecting on four years of Chaminade soccer, all now situated in the rearview mirror, John Adinolfi ’17 could think of no better word to embody his and his fellow seniors’ last game in crimson and gold. In a game bound with due nostalgia, the senior Flyers played Sunday’s state championship knowing it would be their last – win or lose.
The Flyers would make right on that unavoidable finality, claiming Chaminade’s sixth state title with conviction in its 6-0 victory over Canisius High School, sealing the 2016 team’s place in history as just the second to win back-to-back state titles. In addition to that impressive record, the senior Flyers upkept an unmistakable legacy: that of state champions.
A campaign that included an impeccable 14-2-2 regular season and a postseason borne with three extra time victories would come to a head at St. John’s University, where the Chaminade Flyers and Canisius Crusaders squared off in the NYSCHSAA final yesterday. In a repeat of last year’s title game against the top-ranked team from Buffalo, the Flyers were on familiar turf and under similar circumstances.
From the outset, the attack was on. The Flyers dominated possession and created chances to score with each attack, skillfully finding openings and firing shots. In the first ten minutes, Chaminade managed three goal-scoring opportunities, each to no avail. Senior A.J. Codispoti’s cross just minutes into play whirled across the mouth of the goal but evaded the Flyer offensive. It seemed the Flyers would score on a set play seconds later when Matt Layne’s ’17 strike from over forty yards rattled off the crossbar. Again, a scoring opportunity was lost when Codispoti took a shot that missed wide to the left.
Despite those failed attempts, Flyer control was evident as the team’s aggressive offense, backed by a stout defense, was bound to finish. That first goal came in perhaps the most unexpected fashion: goalkeeper Yanni Rigos ’17 launched a deep punt beyond the Canisius defense right on the path of Matt Vowinkel’s run. Vowinkel secured the ball and ripped a point-blank strike – but it was saved by the keeper. Trailing the play, senior midfielder Tim Davis was positioned for the rebound, and he buried the loose ball in the back of the net.
Less than 60 seconds later, Vowinkel would get his. He played a cross from A.J. Codispoti on the perimeter of the 18-yard box, shed his defender, and struck a perfect ball into the bottom left corner. Still with 75 minutes to play, the Flyers held a comfortable 2-0 lead.
Perhaps all was put to rest when the fierce Flyers’ offense finished a third goal on a Codispoti strike in the 23rd minute, and a Jack Graziano ’17 rip from 15 yards out netted a fourth. Little doubt remained as the game entered halftime with the Flyers up 4-0, and championship glory drew ever closer. In the second half, Vowinkel scored two quick goals, one in the bottom left corner and the other in the right, to cushion the Flyers’ lead even further, making Canisius’s hopes all but over.
In claiming a second consecutive state championship, the Flyers soccer program has taken on a powerhouse status and has seen the talent of its athletes cultivate from the freshman level through the varsity years. When all the efforts of the group culminated with a fitting conclusion – championship glory – Adinolfi ’17, the senior midfielder, called it “bittersweet.” He added, “It was sad to see this was the last game, but going out on top made it perfect.”
In their triumphant season, the Flyers overcame the trials of nationally-ranked foes on Long Island, and one more from upstate, to the tune of a state title – now two years and counting. As senior members depart, their jerseys will hang among the best in Chaminade soccer’s history in recognition of their incredible ability and interwoven chemistry, which were exemplified in a second consecutive state title.