After a banner year in 2017, the Chaminade soccer team made even more program history this season.
The Flyers captured their fourth consecutive state CHSAA title, after defeating Regis, 1-0, in the Nov. 11 final. Last year, they pulled off the program’s first three-peat.
“Making history is special,” forward Ben Szemerenyi, who scored the winning goal in the state final, said. “Last year, we won three in a row and this year we cemented that legacy by winning four in a row. It’s such an amazing thing to be part of a team that will be looked back on in our school’s history.”
“It’s an honor playing for a great school and with a great group of guys, so I’m thrilled we were able to accomplish what we did,” Brendan Slattery said.
The road to that accomplishment certainly had its challenges, including a heightened level of expectations coming into the season.
“There was certainly pressure on us, having won it the past three years, to keep this run going,” Szemerenyi said.
Beyond that, the Flyers mettle was tested by a grueling non-conference schedule that included tilts against New Jersey powerhouse Del Barton, Syracuse's Christian Brothers Academy and Ohio behemoth St. Ignatius.
“Against St. Ignatius, we were winning for an hour or so. We ended up losing 3-1, but that gave us an idea of how we could compete at a high level,” Szemerenyi said. “That gave us confidence going forward.”
It showed, as the Flyers went 11-1 in league play before beating Kellenberg, 5-1, in the league semifinals and a strong St. Anthony’s team, 3-0, in the league championship.
“Winning the league final at St. Anthony’s gave us a huge boost going into the state playoffs, and in states, we locked it down,” Szemerenyi said.
In the state tournament, the Flyers edged St. Francis, 2-0, thanks to goals from Evan Bandini and Connor McMahon, to return to the state final at St. John’s University. There, Szemerenyi scored the winner with about eight minutes left.
The strike partnership of Szemerenyi and Slattery led the Chaminade attack, and both earned All-Long Island honors in the process.
“It’s awesome playing with a someone like that and I always know where he’ll be,” Slattery said.
“It’s almost a telepathic connection,” Szemerenyi said.
With the duo causing havoc for opposing backlines, Chaminade’s own defense was stout itself, featuring, among others, Bandini, Francesco Artusa and goalkeeper Andrew Hammersley.
The Flyers also had depth up and down the pitch, as Szemerenyi said this was one of the keys to their success in 2018.
“Part of the success from this season is that we use pretty much every single player,” he said. “Whenever any player came on, they gave it everything they could.”
He added that this tenacity and the success it bred will be what the team is remembered for.
“That’s our legacy and in the future, that’s what we’ll look back on.”
FLYERS' road to the championship
St. Anthony's, 3-0
St. Francis Prep, 2-0