For Jared Nugent, the memory was like biting into a lemon that had spoiled. Not only sour, but bitter, too.
“It was terrible. It was an embarrassment,” the St. Anthony’s senior midfielder said, recalling a one-sided loss to Chaminade in last year’s state CHSAA championship game. “We got them back.”
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And how. Nugent scored four goals with four assists and T.J. Heagerty scored five goals as St. Anthony’s beat Chaminade, 18-5, Wednesday at the Mitchel Field Complex to win its first state Class AAA championship since 2012. The Friars had lost to the Flyers, 15-7, last year. The aftertaste of that one, finally, is gone.
“It’s a great feeling. I’m more pumped than I’ve been a long time,” said Heagerty, also a senior who had not experienced a state title in his high school career. St. Anthony’s (14-2) had beaten Chaminade (10-6) twice in the regular season, 5-4 and 4-3.
“It was an unusual one,” Heagerty acknowledged about the lopsided score. “We really forgot about the other two games today and came out with our energy level really high. But it’s huge to be able to sweep Chaminade. That’s why all of us were yelling it.”
Shouts of “sweep!” punctuated the postgame celebration, which was not fueled by any suspense or late-game drama that typifies the rivalry. The Friars controlled this one, quite literally, from the opening whistle. That’s when another senior, Kyle Gallagher won the faceoff and raced down the middle to score six seconds into the game.
Gallagher won 18 of 25 draws, scored two goals and was voted MVP of his final high school game. “I’ve been practicing every day for this moment,” Gallagher said. “It felt amazing to score that first goal and set a tone for the rest of the game.”
The Friars scored the game’s first seven goals, three by Nugent who was dangerous in transition all day. “We go as far as Jared takes us,” St. Anthony’s coach Keith Wieczorek said. “He works so hard and we feed off him.”
And Nugent does plenty of feeding, too. He led St. Anthony’s in scoring with 38 assists and 27 goals. Heagerty scored 45 goals, including three straight in the third quarter when the Friars, remarkably for a game against their arch rival which had won the last three CHSAA crowns, built the lead to 15-3, necessitating a running clock for a 12-goal margin.
“They were relentless and they’ve been relentless all year,” Wieczorek said. “They played as hard as any team I’ve ever had. Today they hit the open man and they finished.”
The Friars also completed some unfinished business. “We swept Chaminade. There’s no better way to go out,” Nugent said.