Ben Szemerenyi and his fellow seniors had never lost on Chaminade’s homefield.
A pair of first half goals from the striker and a strong defensive effort ensured it would stay that way.
Szemerenyi scored in the third and ninth minutes to lead Chaminade to a 2-1 win over visiting St. Anthony’s in a CHSAA boys soccer match Thursday afternoon. Jevon Burke scored in the 18th minute for the visitors, who continued to apply pressure, but Flyers’ keeper Andrew Hammersley made nine saves to protect the lead.
The win also clinched the top seed in the Catholic league playoffs for Chaminade (10-1).
“For the seniors, it was our last home game, so that gave it extra importance,” Szemerenyi said. “We were unbeaten at home over the four years and that wasn’t ending today, especially against our rivals and especially after they beat us earlier in the season. Losing wasn’t even as an option.”
This intensity was evident as Chaminade controlled play early, and took an unusual path to their first goal. Center back Evan Bandini, who was key to the Flyers’ defensive effort, saw an opening and charged up the field. After receiving a through ball, he crossed it to the unmarked Szemerenyi for a tap-in.
The Flyers’ doubled their lead through a more conventional route when the strike partnership of Szemerenyi and Brendan Slattery linked up.
“That one all goes down to Brendan Slattery,” Szemerenyi said. “We played a quick one-two and it was all about his assist. It would not have happened without him.”
St. Anthony’s (9-3) eventually settled in and got on the board thanks to Burke's goal on a counterattack, and the Friars came very close to equalizing on a number of occasions in the dying minutes of the first half.
They continued to test the Chaminade backline throughout the second half, but Hammersley and the backline of Bandini, Francesco Artusa, Antonio Papa and Brendan Tomlinson answered every challenge.
“Our mentality was bend, but don’t break,” Bandini said. “When they came to the 18 around the box, we clear everything out. We step up for each other.”
“We locked it down, said ‘no through balls,’ and tried not to let anyone behind,” Hammersley said. “When the game ended, we just said, ‘we did it, we beat our rival.’ Nothing feels better than that.”
St. Anthony’s will be the No. 2 seed in the league playoffs, which begin on Oct. 30 at Hofstra. Chaminade will look to win a fourth straight title.
“We have a lot of confidence going forward, especially now that we have the first seed in the playoffs,” Szemerenyi said. “And with a strong performance today, we feel very confident that if we come against St. Anthony’s again that we can beat them.”