By Andrew Wroblewski
When it comes to 2014 accomplishments on the soccer pitch, St. Anthony’s High School is the bee’s knees.
Both the boys and girls teams were crowned New York State champions. Both teams were state champions in the same season 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 the girls’ head coach, Dave Prutting, won his 21st state title and retired with a record of 437-46-19 over a 27-year career.
“Tremendous… without a doubt one of the best years the school has ever had [for soccer],” Donal Buckley, St. Anthony’s athletic director, said. “We’ve had individual teams do well before, but for both teams to be ranked nationally and recognized, it was just a pleasure to watch this season.”
For Buonaiuto, the 2014 team will most be remembered for its ability to truly play as a team.
“So many kids contributed,” he said, “It was really a team effort.”
The boys team (12-3-1) finished its season with a 4-2 win over Fordham Prep on Nov. 8 at Adelphi University in Garden City. Not only did the win give St. Anthony’s its second-straight Catholic High School Athletic Association state championship, but it gave Buonaiuto his 400th career win as a Friar.
Junior Zuberi Symister supplied the game-winning goal for the Friars in the championship game. Senior captains TJ Butzke, Beau Hornberger and Jake Giuffrida were a few of the biggest contributors, the 19-year-head coach said.
As for the girls, the Friars (18-0-1) ended their season with a win over Christ the King at Owl Hollow Fields on State Island on Nov. 10 – a 6-0 win that sealed a state championship of their own. Not to be outdone by Buonaiuto, Prutting went out with a bang as the championship win was the final of his career – he retired after the season – and one that made him the third-most winningest coach in New York State girls soccer history.
Sophomores Sabrina Cristodero and Lexi Aschettino; juniors Miranda Ozimek, Francesca Venezia and 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.
“This season was just a pleasure to watch,” Buckley said. “I just think it’s incredible how both teams and players got along so well together – they truly were a team.”
Buckley also commended both Buonaiuto and Prutting for their work in guiding their teams as coaches who “both believe soccer is a player’s sport” and demonstrated that by never being overly outspoken during a game, but instead taking the time to correct their players on the sidelines and during practice.
“I’m looking forward to next season and seeing the kids once again giving 100 percent of their effort [for St. Anthony’s],” Buckley said.