GBy Colin Capece ’18
Great teams find a way to win the games that matter most, and this year’s Chaminade varsity soccer team certainly did just that on Saturday night, clawing their way to a 1-0 triumph over the St. Anthony’s Friars in the N.S.C.H.S.A.A. Finals. It was questionable as to how this young team would respond to a big-game environment, but playing in front of a packed student section at Motamed Field on the campus of Adelphi University, the Flyers turned in arguably their best performance of the season. The Crimson and Gold played physical and determined against their the Friars, feeding off the energy from the crowd to help propel them to victory. As usual with these rivals, the game resembled a heavyweight fight, with both teams trading scoring opportunities until Chaminade finally delivered a knockout punch in the second half.
The Flyers came out a bit slow in the first half and struggled to create quality scoring chances. The Friars on the other hand, attacked the Chaminade defense. Slowing the St. Anthony’s strikers proved to be a difficult task for the Flyer back-line, but senior captain John Murphy and left-back Chris Mercadante, as well as juniors Francesco Artusa and Nico Primavera all played excellent games and refused to concede. Chaminade goalkeeper A.J. Rumfola was a brick wall inside the net, making a number of clutch saves to keep a clean sheet. The two teams entered the halftime break locked in a scoreless draw.
At the beginning of the second half, it was the Flyers who went on the offensive. About 10 minutes in, a golden opportunity bounced to the foot of Artusa, who had made an overlapping run from his right back position, inside the six-yard box. However, his strike was denied point blank by St. Anthony’s goalkeeper Rob Leamey. The Friars answered immediately with a well-executed counter-attack, but Rumfola made one of many tremendous stops on the night, stuffing midfielder Aidan Wilson. Nearly every team that plays into November needs a little luck to keep their season alive, and the soccer gods were certainly kind to the Flyers with 25 minutes left to play in the second half. St. Anthony’s forward Jevon Burke flicked a header to his teammate Michael Algieri. The midfielder struck the ball on a volley from beyond the eighteen-yard box. He had Rumfola beat, but the ball ricocheted off the post and away from the goal.
Just seven minutes later, Tim de Meij ’18 put the Flyers in front with a right-footed rocket. The senior carved up his defender on the left touchline, cut the ball back into the eighteen-yard box, and ripped a shot into the back of the net. Leamey had no chance as the ball skipped under his glove on the near post side. St. Anthony’s however, would not go quietly. Captain Matt Barresi had one final window to score, but was stopped by the outstretched left hand of Rumfola. Barresi’s temper flared in the final minute of the game. Frustrated with the officiating, he was issued two yellow cards in a thirty-second span after getting into a heated argument with the referee. The captain was sent off and could only watch from the sideline as the clock finally ticked to zero.
The celebration was on for the Flyers, as they had captured their third straight outright league championship.
After an embarrassing 7-2 non-league loss to Amityville to begin the season, this Flyers team appeared to be too inexperienced to have a chance to contend for a title. Graduating ten starters certainly didn’t seem like a formula for success. However, this squad doesn’t seem to care about what happened last year. They have treated this year as an opportunity to write their own legacy. After a first-place regular season finish and now a championship victory over their biggest rival, this team has a certain swagger about it heading into the New York State playoffs. They seem to feel as if they can beat any team in their path. Two more victories this weekend at Belson Stadium on the campus of St. John’s University will clinch a third straight New York State title. This team has accomplished much already, but is still hungry to achieve its ultimate goal.