The St. Anthony’s girls soccer team hated losing last season.
The Friars came up short of a championship last fall, so, this year, the squad decided it, simply, wasn’t going to lose.
St. Anthony’s followed through on that promise on Sunday afternoon, wrapping up a perfect season with a state championship, defeating Xaverian 4-0 in the CHSAA title game at SUNY Maritime in the Bronx.
It was the second state title in the last three years for the Friars.
“Last year we had the heartbreak in the league finals and this year, at the beginning of August, we put our goals down and we had a vision,” said St. Anthony’s coach Sue Alber. “We followed through with it this year and we just got better as the season went on. I’m just proud and extremely happy.”
The Friars, ranked No. 5 in the Tri-State and No. 1 on Long Island by News 12 Varsity, came out firing on all cylinders, seizing the lead in the third minute as Lauren Hackett found the back of the net.
It was enough to give St. Anthony’s, which defeated Notre Dame Academy 8-1 in the state semifinals on Saturday, an early-game boost and set the tone for the rest of the match.
“Coming off of yesterday’s win, our team was just full of a lot of energy and we knew we had to capitalize on any chance we get,” Hackett said. “That one just happened to be really early. It gave us a lot of confidence.”
St. Anthony’s offense controlled tempo throughout the first half, peppering Xaverian goalie Maggie Albunio with shot after shot.
Of course, that’s been par for the course for the Friars all season. Coming into the championship tilt, St. Anthony’s outscored opponents 94-5 and the matchup against the Clippers was no different.
“I think it was all about skipping the midfield and trying to get it out wide or to the center forward as soon as possible because they had a really strong midfield,” said junior Brianna Passaro of the approach against Xaverian. “If we were able to skip or play quickly through the midfield was working best this game.”
Passaro made it a two-goal game in the 38th minute and St. Anthony’s (17-0) didn’t slow down out of the break.
The Friars continued to attack, bringing pressure from every angle and, in the second half alone, racked up seven shots on net and five corner kicks. St. Anthony’s padded the lead in the 57th minute, on one of those corners, as Alexandra Milano connected on a bouncing ball just in front of the net.
“I think there was a little bit where we could have played better, but the beginning of the first half and the entire second half were awesome,” Passaro said. “I think we really pulled it together and we played really controlled.”
Xaverian, ranked No. 4 in New York City by News 12 Varsity, did its best to slow down the Friars attack, but the Clippers struggled to turn field and were held to just one shot on goal.
It was still a historic performance for Xaverian (7-3), which was making its first state championship appearance in the first year of the varsity program.
“I give them a lot of credit,” Alber said. “They’re a young squad, they battled with us from the first minute to the 80th minute and I think this was probably our toughest state championship game.”
Passaro wrapped up the victory in the 78th minute, netting her second goal of the day and twentieth of the season, while the Friars defense recorded its twelfth shutout.
It was a dominant performance from start to finish for the Friars and a dominant season for a squad that had its sights set on a title run from the first practice of the year. St. Anthony’s will relish this one for little while, but then it’s back to the practice field and a brand-new goal – defending a state title.
“We’re going to be losing a lot of good players, but we hope the girls who come in next year have the same mentality as we did,” Passaro said. “We wanted to win states and that’s what got us here.”