In a season that has come to be defined for beating the odds, perhaps it was fitting that the St. Anthony’s boys soccer team had to overcome a bit more adversity Saturday night before claiming its first league title in five years.
The Friars trailed midway through the second half, before Jake Donahue tied the score to force overtime. Dalton Dancy scored in overtime to give No. 4 St. Anthony’s a 2-1 win over No. 2 Kellenberg in the CHSAA league final at Adelphi.
“Coach was telling me I have to put more driving balls in, so I got the ball and drove one in,” said Dancy, who said his winning goal was actually a cross intended for Donahue. “I saw Jake making the run. I was hoping it would get to him, but when it over him and in, I just went crazy.
“I thought, ‘We did it, we finally did it.' "
It was the latest surprising turn for coach Gene Buonaiuto’s Friars (13-4-2), who have typically entered the postseason as one of the top two seeds in the league. This season, they were seeded fourth, pitting them against top-seeded Chaminade in the semifinals.
The Flyers had eliminated St. Anthony’s in each of the past four seasons, but thanks to a 30-yard strike from Donahue on Wednesday, the Friars flipped the script in a 1-0 victory to advance to Saturday’s final.
Kellenberg scored in the first half on a goal from Jack Quinlan for a 1-0 lead. St. Anthony’s began to create the bulk of the chances, but a stellar performance from goalie Theodore Healy kept the Firebirds in the lead.
“I couldn’t be more proud of these boys,” St. Anthony's assistant coach Don Corrao said. “We were underdogs on paper, but the test of a champion is how you get off that paper. We took some shots and struggled with our identity at times, but the team chemistry really came through when it really mattered.”
“We had a lot of ups and downs this season, but even though we came in fourth, we overcame everything,” said Dancy, who assisted on Donahue’s goal and earned most valuable player of the game honors. “We all came together, especially at the end of the season, and once the playoffs came around, we found a new energy and knew it would be our year.”