Brianna Passaro provides St. Anthony’s girls soccer coach Sue Alber versatility with the ability to play many different positions on the field, but there’s no hesitation when the senior thinks about her desired spot.
“I like forward, that’s my favorite,” the third-year player said. “I like interchanging with the other forwards and getting a goal and creating a lot of opportunities and pressing on a defense.”
Passaro, a Commack native, has played the middle of the field, on the wing, attacking center-midfielder and forward at St. Anthony’s. She finds positives about all positions. But few things — if any — can match the pure jubilation of finding the back of the net.
“It’s a nice feeling, I think that’s why I like forward a lot,” Passaro said. “Especially when you’re down or it’s an important game, and your goal is the one that pulls you ahead. I feel like normally, some goals will change the momentum of the game, so that’s a good feeling, too.”
And it’s a feeling Passaro is used to experiencing. One of the the most consistent players on Long Island, she scored in 15 of St. Anthony’s 17 games in an undefeated state championship season last year. She had two goals and an assist in both the state semifinal and championship games for the Friars, and totaled 20 goals and 10 assists for the season.
“When it came to those tough games, [Passaro] steps up,” Alber said. “And I think that’s what separates the best players from the average players.”
Alber, who has coached Passaro dating to youth soccer at age 8, said the forward always was an elite player for her age group, with the natural ability to finish.
“She can shoot from outside the 18-[yard box], she can finish within the 6-yard box,” Alber said, “so her goal-scoring ability makes her very dangerous.”
But Passaro, committed to Duquesne, isn’t satisfied after a junior season leading the CHSAA in goals, assists and points en route to a state championship. She'd like to leave a legacy of back-to-back state titles and the Friars return a strong team, including defensive center-midfielder Lauren Haggerty, center-forward Brianna Jablonowski and centerback Christine Fabrizi.
“I’m excited,” Passaro said. “Especially after how we ended last year, I’m excited to see what this year brings and to finish out with another state championship, hopefully.
St. Anthony’s biggest threat might be Sacred Heart, the 2016 CHSAA state champions, which will feature six four-year starting seniors — Caitlin Kennedy, Cubby Biscardi, Missy Biscardi, Caroline McDermott, Sara Micheli and Tori Minda. Sacred Heart was 12-4 last season with three of its losses coming to St. Anthony’s.
But with a mix of strong returning players and new talented players to introduce to the system, the Friars have high expectations — for instance, not allowing a goal all season. And with Passaro leading the attack, the offense shouldn’t have many issues.
“There’s a lot of talent on this team this year,” Passaro said, “so I think it’s going to be a really successful season.”