By Andrew Wroblewski
The St. Anthony’s High School soccer program – both boys and girls – is no stranger to winning championships. Dating back to the 1960s, the school has won countless Catholic High School Athletic Association (CHSAA) league championships – while sprinkling in several state titles.
This year, however – as both teams prepare for their first-round matchups in their respective state tournaments this weekend – the program has a chance to accomplish something it’s only done once before: win both a boys and girls state title in the same year, Athletic Director Donal Buckley said.
“We’re looking forward to the weekend and hopefully a lot of success will be coming our way,” Buckley said. “But win or lose these are two of the greatest teams we’ve ever had.”
On Nov. 1 the boys earned their state tournament bid in grand fashion; No. 2 St. Anthony’s (10-3-1) defeated No. 1 Chaminade (13-0-1) in penalty kicks, 10-9. Scoreless through regulation and two additional 10-minute sudden-death overtime periods, Friars’ goalkeeper Jonathan Graziosi emerged a hero; the senior made a diving save and St. Anthony’s advanced.
“He’s had his ups and downs, but he’s been very important to this team and he’s come on strong at the end of the season,” St. Anthony’s Head Coach Eugene Buonaiuto said of his keeper.
Now, the Friars are preparing for Saturday’s showdown with St. Joseph's Collegiate Institute – which is scheduled for 5 p.m. at Adelphi University in Garden City.
“The atmosphere in the locker room has been tremendous,” Buonaiuto, in his 29th year coaching the team, said. “They work together as a team, probably more so than any other team I’ve had in a longtime – as far as team effort goes. They really have to work for what they get and they’ve done just that.”
If St. Anthony’s wins two more games not only will it be a state champion, but it will mark Buonaiuto’s 400th career win as a Friar.
As for the girls team, the Friars had a bit of an easier ride into the state tournament – but one likely as satisfying.
Also on Nov. 1, No. 1 St. Anthony’s (16-0-1) advanced with a 4-1 win over No. 2 St. John the Baptist (11-3-2). Sophomore Sabrina Cristodero scored what would be the game-winning goal in the 33rd-minute for St. Anthony’s. Senior Katrina Freidman, junior Kayla Arestivo and sophomore Francesca Picicci also scored for the Friars.
“They’ve also have had a wonderful season,” Buckley said. “The team itself – as so much of any high school team does – depends on how the kids play together and if they sacrifice together. This team is probably one of the finest they’ve ever had.”
While their opponent still had not been determined as of press time on Wednesday, the girls will be playing at 2 p.m. in Staten Island at Owl Hollow Park.