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Minda’s penalty kick gives Sacred Heart CHSAA girls soccer title

Sacred Heart celebrates its victory over St. Anthony

Sacred Heart celebrates its victory over St. Anthony in the CHSAA final at Adelphi University on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2016. Photo Credit: Enrique C. Mendez

Victoria Minda sensed it was her moment to elevate Sacred Heart girls soccer.

Her teammates did their jobs as the back line of Bridget O’Hara, Anna Donnelly, Melissa Biscardi and Ellen Byrnes with Sara Mitcheli and Shannon Etts splitting the game in net held the high-powered St. Anthony’s offense scoreless through 100 minutes (two 40-minute halves and two 10-minute overtimes).

Mitcheli made her penalty kick stops when given the opportunity and Byrnes, Caroline McDermott and Caitlin Kennedy all converted penalty kicks prior. With one final goal, Minda could knock St. Anthony’s off the pedestal of CHSAA girls soccer.

Minda jogged toward the ball, lined up her kick and drilled the penalty shot to the upper-left corner of the net to clinch No. 2 Sacred Heart’s penalty-kick victory over No. 1 St. Anthony’s in the CHSAA girls soccer championship Saturday night at Adelphi University. Sacred Heart outscored St. Anthony’s, 4-3, in the shootout.

“I knew I had it because we did so much practice and Sara was so amazing stopping all her shots,” Minda said. “We just practiced so much that I knew and I had confidence in myself.”

And after the win, Sacred Heart had nothing but respect for the Friars, who suffered their first loss of the season.

“I’m just really glad my kids came to compete,” said coach Peter Bralower, who added it was the first time he defeated St. Anthony’s in his eight years at Sacred Heart. “They are the standard bearer for soccer in our league and on Long Island so my hat’s off to them. I just thought we battled with them the whole game.”

Both teams had their chances to score in regulation. Kennedy — the conference’s leading goal scorer with 24 goals — had shots hit off the crossbar, sail wide and over the net and was constantly blanketed by the strong Friars back line of Katrina Etts, Samantha Gordon, Jenn Bonifazio and Stephanie Darrell.

“We were just really happy we were able to play through the whole game,” Kennedy said, “and at the end we won in PKs and it was just a great feeling after the whole season.”

St. Anthony’s eliminated Sacred Heart in overtime in last season’s CHSAA semifinal, a feeling of defeat the team never forgot.

“We were definitely trying to change that,” said Byrnes, who was awarded the championship most valuable player. “We knew they were going to be a very, very good team, very strong and we just did great.”

St. Anthony’s Francesca Picicci was awarded the league’s most valuable player postgame.

Sacred Heart (13-3) advances to the CHSAA state semifinal Nov. 6 at Aviator Field in Brooklyn at 3:30 p.m. And after knocking off the two-time defending state champions, Sacred Heart feels confident moving forward in the postseason tournament.

“We’re really excited,” Kennedy said. “We’re going to keep working hard and I know we can do it.”


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