By Sophia Ricco
The St. Anthony’s girls varsity soccer team are in their prime and have no plans of slowing down until they win the New York State Championship again this year.
The team is undefeated this season, with a 7-0 record and many shutout games. Led by coach, Sue Alber, the team has now secured the number three ranking in the country for girls high school soccer from Top Drawer Soccer. After coming off a win with a game against Rich, New Jersey, a team that ranks in the top 20 teams in the nation, the girls are feeling unstoppable.
“Our goal every year is to win the States and I think this year we have the potential to do it,” Alber said. “We’ve just gotta stay focused and make sure every game we play to our ability.”
The team is stacked this year with a lineup of players who all have a lot of talent, according to Alber. She does admit that they have weak spots but her players are able to make up for it. Some key senior players graduated last year, but the team was able to pick up two skilled junior girls as players this year, who could not play previously due to club team commitments.
“I can’t imagine not coaching there, I mean I had a newborn and I came back after four weeks,” Alber said. “People probably thought I was crazy but I didn’t want to miss their season, I have a great senior class.”
She describes the senior class as very strong players, while commending her junior class for being attack minded players. Many of her players are returning from previous seasons, which makes them all well versed in what they need to do to win. Her three senior captains: Lauren Haggerty, Caroline Nuttall, and Brianna Passaro have helped to set an example.
“Our captains and the other players know what it takes to win a State Championship because we did it last year,” Alber said. “So they’ve been very focused and driven, working extremely hard to make sure that we accomplish that and hopefully go undefeated as well.”
This is Alber’s fifth season coaching for the girls soccer team and since she picked up the position has run possession and attacking formations and plays. When she was approached by a board member and a friend whose daughter played there to become head coach, she was intrigued by the school’s high level of skill.
“The school itself is like a college campus, actually probably better,” Alber said. “And the level of talent there is higher than at any public school so I felt like it was a good fit and in the end, I absolutely love it.”
Her top assist and goal score leaders in games are forwards Brianna Passaro and Brianna Jablonowski, who are both “lethal up top”. They are joined by juniors, Victoria Mule and Nicole Gordon who unleash “havoc” on other teams when attacking. The team has been able to prevent opposing teams from scoring with the help of Kaitlyn Mahoney, their goalkeeper. She is aided by midfielder Lauren Haggerty and defenders Christine Fabrizi and Sophia Iaccino, who don’t allow many chances for teams to score during games.
“When you have a lot of talent, sometimes you have that ‘me’ mentality where everyone wants to do it themselves so we’ve set the tone recently, that’s it’s gotta be a ‘we’ mentality,” Alber said. “We’re all working for each other and we’re all playing for each other.”
The team must work together when they face their rival Sacred Heart again this season on their turf, after beating them 2-0 at home. After the team knocked them out of the playoff finals two years ago, their games are “always a very emotional, intense league game.”
But Alber feels confident her team will succeed due to their unity and camaraderie within the team. She describes them as tight knit family.
“I think we’re just a group of 29 sisters really,” Alber said.