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Francesca (2 goals) and Niccola Venezia (2 assists) help St. Anthony's advance to state CHSAA final

St. Anthony's Francesca Venezia goes for the ball

St. Anthony's Francesca Venezia goes for the ball against a diving St. Joseph by the Sea goalie Taylor Lopa during the CHSAA girls soccer state semifinal on Sunday, Nov. 9, 2014. Credit: Patrick E. McCarthy

Niccola Venezia often is called the engine of the Friars. So let's call her sister, Francesca, the gas pedal.

Everything runs through Niccola, but Francesca makes them go.

And with the two of them guiding the way this season, it's as if St. Anthony's has been cruising down a long, open road with no speed limit.

There's been no stopping the unbeaten Friars, who defeated St. Joseph by the Sea, 5-0, in the state CHSAA semifinals Sunday at Owl Hollow Park on Staten Island.

Francesca scored two goals, one off a feed from her sister, who had two assists.

"We're used to finding each other's feet," Niccola said. "We always know where each other are."

Francesca, the Friars' leading scorer with 18 goals, scored off a cross from Kaitlin Loughren to give St. Anthony's a 1-0 lead just 2:45 into the game. Loughren scored two minutes later after winning a ball and firing a shot from 20 yards.

Katrina Friedman scored on a strike from 18 yards to increase the lead to 3-0 early in the second half.

Niccola, who will play in the All-American game in December, then sent a ball over the top to Francesca, who beat the keeper. Kelly Morris' breakaway goal capped the scoring.

"The desire of wanting to win this so badly has pulled us together as a team," Francesca said.

The Friars (17-0-1) will play Christ the King in the final at 3 p.m. Monday at Owl Hollow Park.

It will be the final game in the 27-year career of St. Anthony's coach Dave Prutting -- winner of 436 games and 20 state titles -- who will retire at season's end.

"He's been coaching so many years and has so many wins," Francesca said. "So we want him to finish with a win."

One last victory for the guy behind the wheel.

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