By Nico Iacono ‘22
The Chaminade soccer program completed a championship sweep this season with the varsity, junior varsity, and freshman teams all bringing hardware home to Jackson Avenue. Each group rose to the occasion, demonstrating their outstanding dedication and unified team effort.
The varsity Flyers dominated all season, achieving an overall 16-4-1 record and winning both the league and state championship in a thrilling fashion.
The league championship was decided against rival St. Anthony’s. The goalless game was broken three minutes into the second overtime when captain Jack Flaherty ‘22 buried the game-winning goal, heading in a corner kick from sophomore Luca Giannola ‘24.
After winning the league championship, the Flyers moved on to the state semifinals. They punched their ticket to the finals with another headed-in goal as league MVP James Cooney ‘22 scored off the foot of Giannola.
In the state championship under the lights at Randall’s Island, the Flyers struggled to get into rhythm during the first half. However, the Flyers found their footing in the second half of the game: Charles Balsamo ‘22 scored 60 minutes into the game, and Francesco Pavano ‘22 soon netted another goal to secure victory against a strong Fordham Prep squad. The Flyers secured their first state crown since 2018.
The seniors had a storybook ending to their last season as the Flyers. Through their spectacular performance throughout the season and especially in the playoffs, they ended Chaminade’s state championship drought.
Senior striker Sebastian Rakowski ‘22 voiced his appreciation for the experience as a varsity Flyer this season, saying, “It was the best possible way to wrap up a great last season for the seniors on the team. I couldn’t be more proud of all the guys I’ve played with for four years now.”
In addition to the Flyers’ championship victories at the state and league levels, many Flyers received notable individual accolades, with Matt Canade ‘22, Flaherty, Giannola, Pavano, and Cooney each achieving All-League honors, with Pavano and Cooney also receiving All-State honors.
Canade reflected, “My sophomore year, when I got pulled up to varsity for the first time, we didn’t win the state championships because we lost in the semi-finals to St. Anthony’s. My junior year, there were no state championships due to COVID restrictions. So I went into this year-—my last year—with everything I had. The championship is something I’ll have with me for the rest of my life. It’s something I can’t put a price on and it’s probably my favorite memory at Chaminade.”
“We were working towards this all year and it feels great to be able to pull it off,” Flaherty said. “This is Coach Gallagher’s ninth state championship in his Chaminade career and, for each win, he adds another star to the team’s warm-up jackets and jerseys. It’s exciting knowing that we’ll be adding another star to next year’s team uniforms.”
The junior varsity Flyers, meanwhile, had an impressive season as well, going undefeated in their regular season, drawing two games, and winning the rest.
The Flyers got the job done in commanding fashion at the league finals, where they beat Kellenberg 6-0. All the goals were scored in the first half of action, demonstrating just how dominant the Flyers were in this matchup as they brought home yet another league championship.
The Flyers’ outstanding season was a total team effort led by captains Chris Touhy ‘24 and Eric Oldenbourg ‘24, as well as by stars such as Pat Touhy ‘24, Liam Ritcey ‘24, Jordan Eisenberg ‘24, Marco Iacono ‘24, and Brady Reis ‘24.
Iacono expressed his pleasure with Flyers’ performances, saying, “This year we saw group effort and dedication day-in and day-out. I am excited to help continue this dominance at the varsity level with my teammates.”
The freshman Flyers also had an undefeated season, going 15-0-1 and taking home CHS soccer’s third league championship this year.
The Flyers’ season was defined by success, with victories over New Jersey powerhouses Don Bosco and Del Barton, along with wins against St. Anthony’s and Kellenberg’s junior varsity teams.
In the league championship, the Flyers took on St. Anthony’s. The matchup was nothing short of entertaining as the game was taken to penalty shootouts because of a 2-2 deadlock in regulation. The Flyers made all five of their penalty shots, winning the shootout with a score of 5-3.
Head Coach Mr. Brian Anselmo ‘89 pointed out the contributions of players who were instrumental to their success: Blake Donahue ‘25 and Jack Veletanga ‘25 for leading the offensive attack, Matt Giuliano ‘25 as the defensive rock, and goalie Keegan Portsmore ‘25 who made key saves—especially during the penalty shootout—to win the championship.
Matthew Cinque ‘25, a player on the squad, reflected, “The 2025 class was a great bunch of highly skilled players who were well-coached into a very strong freshman side.”
Each group of Flyers was put to the test, and all brought home the most prestigious award for their respective teams. Chaminade’s soccer program hopes to continue this run of form into next year.