For St. Anthony's, it seemed like the team was playing in a man-down situation all season. First, North Carolina-bound goalie Kieran Burke was diagnosed with mononucleosis in the first week of practice and missed the entire season.
Then Army-bound defenseman Tim Stackpole suffered a leg injury and didn't return until late in the season.
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The Friars hardly missed a beat. Despite losing its two regular-season games to rival Chaminade, St. Anthony's defeated the Flyers, 8-6, on May 24 to win the Long Island Class AAA CHSAA title for a fourth straight season. They played an impressive intersectional schedule and finished with a 14-3 record and a No. 5 national ranking.
Stackpole played his most minutes of the season in the final game, and scored a goal, which helped. But the real star was Burke's replacement in the cage, Eric Caliendo, who made 17 saves, including several key stops late in the game, to complete an improbable and very special senior year for the school's valedictorian who will play lacrosse at Haverford.
"It was a tough situation and he got thrust into the limelight when Kieran got sick," St. Anthony's coach Keith Wieczorek said of Caliendo. "I can't ask for any more than what he did for us."
The same could be said of attack Sean McDonagh (Harvard) and Matt Chanenchuk (Navy) and middie Brian Sherlock (North Carolina), who had outstanding seasons.
McDonagh was the team's offensive catalyst. "He was our stabilizing force in every game," said Wieczorek, whose nephew Ryan Wieczorek was a key player for state Class A champion West Islip. "Sean was our best offense player as an orchestrator."
Typical of the 2012 season, an unlikely star emerged in the championship game when junior attack Dylan Molloy scored four goals with two assists.
"It's never the main guy. Everybody is prepared for your studs, but each year it's somebody else," Wieczorek said.
That was especially true this year, when the Friars manned up.