Friars mixed senior moments with soph touch
This was about seniority.
Generally in lopsided games, the seniors are the first to be subbed out. But with St. Anthony's girls soccer team up by six goals in the closing minutes of the CHSAA state championship game, it was the seniors who were subbing in.
The margin enabled the Friars to tinker with the lineup and send every available senior onto the field for one last sentimental run together. If only for a few minutes, the grade each player was in took priority over the position they played.
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"All of us were playing out of position because we wanted to be on the field together for the last few minutes," senior Jessica Lukas said. "It was the perfect way to end our senior year."
Making it even more perfect was that all four senior captains -- Lukas, Sydney Arestivo, Maggie Bill and Gabriela Nastasi -- scored as St. Anthony's cruised to a 6-0 victory over Notre Dame Academy to capture a second straight state title.
"That really was the cherry on top of a great season," Nastasi said. "To be able to say that we all scored in our last time on the field as a Friar is something the four of us will never forget."
But it was a member of a strong sophomore class that sent the Friars to Buffalo for the state tournament. Midfielder Mackenzie Kober scored the lone goal in a 1-0 win over Kellenberg in the league championship game. Then junior Tricia Hanley, the Friars' leading goal scorer, and Lukas each scored in a 2-0 win over Sacred Heart Academy of Buffalo in the state semifinal.
The state championship game, in which every player got to play, was where the Friars' depth was truly on display. In addition to the captains, Hanley and Samantha Wargo also scored, meaning six goals were scored by six different Friars.
"I think that was the best game we played all season," said Bill, who will attend the University of North Carolina for soccer and lacrosse. "Just being a part of this program and helping my team win meant so much to me."
The 25th year of Dave Prutting's coaching career at St. Anthony's was one of his most memorable. In addition to yet another state title, he earned the 400th win of his career in mid-October, becoming only the fifth coach in the state to do so.
"I'm getting near the end of the road," he said of his coaching career. "It means a lot more when you're getting down to the wire."
Keeper Danielle Maurice, who allowed only six goals over two seasons, now gives way to Kelly DiGregorio. Defender Daniella Ganiaris, a vocal leader in the back, passes the torch to Katie Goncalves. Lukas and Bill, the team's top point leaders, are succeeded by Hanley.
But before moving on, they stepped onto the field together one final time and walked off as state champions.
"I'm always going to remember this year," Lukas said. "It was a great way to go out."