By Dylan Grismer ’22
As the members of the Chaminade Varsity Soccer Team returned to campus this fall, there was only one thing on their minds: redemption. Almost a year ago, the team had suffered one of its most punishing defeats in its history. After finishing a spectacular regular season in 2019, the Flyers came up short against rival St. Anthony’s in the semi finals game, robbing them of their eighth straight league title.
When the 2020 season began, the sting of defeat was vivid in the minds of many of the players, and especially the returning seniors. However, their journey in 2020 was anything but another early exit. After dominating league play and finishing the regular season with an undefeated 9-0 record, the Flyers rode their momentum into the league championship: a rematch against the St. Anthony’s Friars. Led by forward Chris Honan ’21, the Flyers showed that they were still the powerhouses of the league, defeating the Friars 2-0 in an intense match. The Flyers were once again champions of the CHSAA – their eighth league title in the last nine years.
Before the season even began, everyone knew that this season would be much more difficult than those in years past. With the challenges of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Catholic High School soccer on Long Island was one of the only sports allowed to continue through the fall 2020 season. Despite the obstacles, the Flyers did not back down and were prepared to avenge their 2019 title loss.
The championship game, held last Sunday at St. Anthony’s High School, was just as intense as everyone anticipated it would be. Both teams were nervous from the get-go, equally cautious to not make a critical mistake. The first half looked as if St. Anthony’s would prevail, after they outshot the Flyers 5-1. But, thanks to stellar defense by Michael Santos ’21, Ronan MacGilvray ’21, Jack Flaherty ’22, and Joseph Giannola ’22, as well as outstanding goaltending by Matt Canade ’22, the Flyers held St. Anthony’s scoreless through the first half. Canade, who also started in net for the varsity squad as a sophomore in 2019, was especially brilliant with his five saves. Deadlocked at 0-0 at halftime, the Flyers knew it was their time to pull away.
Then, in the 62nd minute, the Flyers and their fans breathed a sigh of relief. Chris Honan was able to steal the ball away from a St. Anthony’s defender deep in their end, and then found Francesco Pavano ’22 over the middle, who buried the game’s first goal. Not even seven minutes later, Honan gained control of the ball off a scramble and drilled another goal past the goalkeeper, extending the Flyers’ lead to 2-0. In a matter of minutes, the game had gone from a tie to a significant Chaminade advantage. St. Anthony’s could not put together any offensive attack for the rest of the game, and the Flyers celebrated as the clock reached the 90th minute. Flyers soccer was back.
Senior defenseman Owen Serkes ’21 jubilantly reflected on the team’s win: “Even without being on the field, winning the championship at St. Anthony’s was such an exhilarating experience. To me, our victory represents a spark of light during the challenges of the pandemic. Celebrating on their home field was probably one of my happiest moments at Chaminade, and the friendships I have developed with my teammates over these past four years are unforgettable.”
Many people had assumed that the glory days of Chaminade soccer were over after their heartbreaking defeat in 2019. But the Flyers made their dominance known throughout the league after this decisive win. If there’s one thing to remember from their campaign in 2020, it’s that Chaminade Varsity Soccer will be a force for years to come.
“Having worked so hard from the off-season to the final seconds of the title game, and watching all that hard work pay off, was truly amazing,” exclaimed goalie Matt Canade, who played on the team last year and vividly remembered the defeat. “Every guy on the team deserved this win.”