Chaminade goalkeeper Andrew Marotta punts the ball down the field during a...

Chaminade goalkeeper Andrew Marotta punts the ball down the field during a CHSAA soccer game against St. John the Baptist on Tuesday, October 18, 2022 in Mineola. Credit: Dawn McCormick

Mike Gallagher has an additional offensive weapon on the defensive side of the soccer field. The Chaminade coach just wanted to unleash it on St. John the Baptist.

Not every goalkeeper can punt a ball downfield like Andrew Marotta.

“We were trying to get him to do it in the first half,” Gallagher said. “When you have a hundred-yard-long field and the kid can hit the ball 60, 70 yards, it’s a weapon. And he was insisting on playing out of the back. So we made that adjustment.”

The junior launched a booming kick past midfield in a nil-nil game. Pete Leavy corralled it, beat a defender and scored with 22:23 to go.

Chaminade hung on for a 1-0, NSCHSAA win Tuesday at its Gold Star Stadium.

This was its second victory by that score against a Cougars team coached by Nick Gallagher, Mike’s brother.

“To come out 1-0 is a good result,” Mike Gallagher said of this one, “but we’ve got a lot of work to do.”

The Flyers (9-3-1, 6-0-1) are the defending CHSAA state champs, but there are only two starters back.

“We lost a lot of players,” said Marotta, who spent some time with the varsity early last season. “But Coach always says, ‘Leave the jersey in a better place.’ [The players] picked it up right away. They’re working hard every day.

“I think we’re going to win the championship again and go on to the state final and win this again, two years in a row.”

Nick Gallagher believes St. John the Baptist (8-4-1, 6-3-1) is also capable of winning those prizes, especially after losing 1-0 again.

“It’s one play,” he said. “We’ve got to have that one play. It’s got to go the other way.”

Leavy delivered that play for Chaminade, scoring from just inside the box. The junior midfielder volleyed it over goalkeeper Terence Liegey’s head.

Liegey, otherwise, stood out with 10 saves, including two diving stops. Another second-half goal against him was negated by an offsides call.

“He’s had a great year,” Nick Gallagher said.

Marotta made four saves, including a nifty reactive stop in the second half.

“I feel like this team has that one heartbeat,” Leavy said. “We all have that same mindset, same goal — repeat state champs. I feel like we do have the people to do it.”

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