TODAY'S PAPER
Good Morning
Good Morning
SportsHigh SchoolBoys Soccer

Another state CHSAA title, another star for Chaminade

The Chaminade boys soccer team celebrates after defeating

The Chaminade boys soccer team celebrates after defeating Fordham Prep in the CHSAA state boys soccer championship game at Randall's Island on Sunday. Credit: Errol Anderson

Jack Flaherty will graduate from Chaminade in the spring. He will also be attending the U.S. Naval Academy and playing lacrosse next season.

But the 6-4, 180-pounder, the seniors, and the rest of the 2021 Chaminade boys soccer team left a little something behind for the 2022 group -- a star.

Say what?

Each year that Chaminade has won a state CHSAA title, the Flyers get a star above the crest on the left side of their warm-up jackets.

"Last year [as a junior], I didn’t even know what the stars were for," said Flaherty with a chuckle. "This year, we made a bigger deal [about it] when we understood why we had eight stars [for eight titles]."

Make it nine after Chaminade defeated Fordham Prep, 2-0, at Randall’s Island on Nov. 14. It was the Flyers’ first state crown since 2018.

"It will be great that we are the class that gets to add the ninth star," Flaherty said. "We also get to add to the legacy of Chaminade soccer and Coach [Mike] Gallagher."

The long-time Flyers coach -- who took over as head coach in 1998 -- always has Chaminade play a tough non-league schedule. This season, that included games against St. Benedict’s Prep and Delbarton (both in New Jersey) and Harverford (Pa.).

Although the Flyers lost to all three teams, they played well in a 3-1 defeat against St. Benedict’s on Oct. 16. (St. Benedict finished the season ranked No. 2 in the country in the United Soccer Coaches High School rankings poll.)

However, instead of continuing their solid play, Chaminade choked up a lead three different times and lost, 6-4, against rival St. Anthony’s three days later.

"We went into the St. Anthony’s game cocky and confident and we got beat down at home," Flaherty said. "They were celebrating on our field [after the game] and that really got under our skin.

"After that -- especially for the defense -- we were more locked in as a unit. There was more of an effort on the field. That was a real turning point for us."

Indeed. Chaminade allowed just one goal in its final six games -- and did not surrender a goal in its four postseason contests thanks to goalkeeper Matt Canade and defenders Flaherty, Garrett Smith, Joe Giannola and Anthony Careccia.

Thomas Herzog, Luca Giannola, Francesco Pavano and CHSAA MVP James Cooney made up a formidable midfield, and Charles Balsamo and Jack O’Boyle led the way up top for the Flyers (16-4-1).

"I’m happy, of course, but you know what, honestly, I really think it’s the kids," said Gallagher the night after his team won the program’s ninth state crown -- all under his leadership. "The last 10 years we have really emphasized the way we play is more of a tradition."

A tradition that will continue late next summer when the members of the 2022 Chaminade team receive their new jackets, including the ninth star.

Flaherty and the other seniors most likely won’t be around to see the new jerseys, though many will be at the annual alumni game on Thanksgiving morning, which features up to 80 former and current players in attendance.

"[The ninth star] is for next year’s team," Flaherty said. "I won’t see it, but knowing that I was a part of it? That’s enough for me."

FLYERS’ ROAD TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP

CHSAA semifinals: Kellenberg, 1-0

CHSAA championship: St. Anthony’s 1-0 (2 OT)

CHSAA state semifinal: St. Francis Prep, 1-0

CHSAA state championship: Fordham Prep, 2-0

More high schools