After winning the New York State and Catholic High School Athletic Association championships a season ago, Chaminade is the favorite once again. But the team is dealing with some adversity.
Captain and center back Antonio Papa will miss most, if not all, of his entire senior season with a knee injury he suffered during his club season. Coach Mike Gallagher said the injury hasn’t kept Papa away from the team, as he has been to every practice. But his absence on the field has caused other players to switch positions.
“It was really unfortunate with what happened to Antonio because I think it would have been a much different team,” Gallagher said. “He played center back next to [Brendan] Tomlinson and when he got hurt, we started the first day of practice with [Justin] Caccavo as center back.”
Caccavo, who is one of the Flyers' four captains, was a midfielder last season and his passing ability is a huge asset. This proved to be true on his assist during the state championship game against Regis last season that sealed a 1-0 victory.
“Taking [Caccavo] out of midfield to put him at center back, we are losing a little something,” Gallagher said. “But we are gaining his experience and knowledge back there as well as his ability to pass.”
The other two captains are Tomlinson and Luca Iacono. Gallagher said Iacono is a tough midfielder who battles and can win 50/50 balls. Tomlinson is another center back who has a true sense of the game and solid athleticism, Gallagher said.
Chaminade’s top threat to securing another CHSAA title is St. Anthony’s, the team it beat 3-0 in the championship game last season. However, Gallagher said the team views every team as a potential threat.
“We’ve had a good head-to-head rivalry with St. Anthony’s for a long time,” Gallagher said. “But St. John the Baptist and Kellenberg are really good in our league. We respect each and every team when we play them.”
St. Anthony’s coach Don Corrao said his team is itching to get back on the field to compete against Chaminade.
"It rivals any rivalry in sports,” Corrao said. “You want to talk about the Yankees and Red Sox rivalry, you want to talk about St. Anthony’s and Chaminade. It’s the biggest game of the year for us.”