By Andrew Wroblewski
For St. Anthony’s High School’s varsity soccer programs, fitting the boys and girls teams’ accomplishments this season into just one sentence is nearly impossible – but here it goes.
Both teams became New York State champions last week; both teams are state champions in the same year for just the second time in school history; for the boys, the Friars repeated as state champs; boys Head Coach Gene Buonaiuto earned his 400th career win; and girls Head Coach Dave Prutting won his 21st state title and retires with a record of 437-46-19 over a 27-year career.
“Tremendous,” Athletic Director Donal Buckley said.
That about covers it – for St. Anthony’s High School, this soccer season was nothing short of tremendous and the monumental achievements started off on Nov. 8.
On that day, at Adelphi University, the boys Friars (12-3-1) squad took on Fordham Prep in the Catholic High School Athletic Association’s state championship game; St. Anthony’s won the contest 4-2 as junior Zuberi Symister scored what would be the winning goal for the Friars in the tail end of the first half.
“The guys were very focused and played with a team concept,” Buonaiuto, who simultaneously earned his 400th win and state title in the same night, said. “I couldn’t have had it any better than the way it worked out – winning the [400th] in the state championship like that was great. [Coaching] it’s just something I like doing; there are great coaches, great kids here and it makes things a whole lot easier for me… That’s why I’ve lasted as long as I have here.”
Leading St. Anthony’s this season, Buonaiuto said, was the “big three” in senior captains TJ Butzke, Beau Hornberger and Jake Giuffrida. Butzke will be off to Boston University and Hornberger will take to Marist College next fall, but Giuffrida is still undecided, Buonaiuto said.
Not to be overlooked, the girls Friars (18-0-1) squad ended their undefeated season in style Nov. 10 with a 6-0 victory over Christ the King at Owl Hollow Fields on Staten Island. Lady Friars coach Prutting, 77, will now retire as he finishes his career as the third-most winningest coach in New York State girls soccer history.
“The girls absolutely loved playing for him,” Buckley said. “First and foremost, he’s always a gentleman… He has the same philosophy that Gene has, it’s a players’ game – you’d never see him shout from the sidelines. He’s done a great job coaching this team.”
Sophomores Sabrina Cristodero and sophomore Lexi Aschettino; juniors Miranda Ozimek, Francesca Venezia, Kayla Arestivo; and senior Nicola Venezia were the goal scorers for St. Anthony’s in the championship game; goalkeeper Kelly DiGregorio, a senior, was only tasked with making one save in securing the win.
“It’s great that both teams won the title,” Buonaiuto said. “It’s one big happy family here… and bodes well for the entire school.”