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Lily Baldi helps top-seeded St. Anthony's to its fifth CHSAA girls soccer title

Lilyana Baldi #33 of St. Anthony's celebrates her

Lilyana Baldi #33 of St. Anthony's celebrates her goal in the first half against Sacred Heart during the CHSAA girls soccer final at St. Joseph's College on Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021. Credit: Jim McIsaac

When you’re a member of the Black & Gold Machine -- better known as the St. Anthony’s girls soccer team -- a player never knows when she’ll get her chance to shine.

While it was most certainly a team effort on Tuesday, one player off the bench gave the Friars a lift when they needed it most.

Junior reserve forward Lily Baldi scored with 6:50 left in the first half and ignited top-seeded St. Anthony’s to its fifth CHSAA girls soccer title and 33rd straight victory after a 4-0 win against a tenacious No. 2 Sacred Heart at St. Joseph’s College.

Baldi had a goal and an assist in a win against St. Dominic on Sept. 15, and hadn’t scored since then until the final.

"I think that goal changed the game," Friars coach Sue Alber said. "To be honest -- I didn’t think we were playing that well in the first half."

Baldi entered the game midway through the first half. Later, Alber tweaked the Friars’ formation. Then, Sam D’Angelo sent a cross into the box that wasn’t cleared. Baldi calmly gathered the ball and used her left foot to send a beauty into the upper-left corner for the game’s first goal.

"Call it luck -- whatever it is -- we put it in the back of the net," Alber said. "It was a huge momentum changer."

Baldi has been seeing some starts and plenty of time off the bench from Alber lately, because of her high energy.

"I had a lot of adrenaline running through my body," Baldi said. "I was just really excited to play."

So were the Friars (18-0) who pulled away in the second half thanks to goals from Olivia Perez, Ashley Kozlowski and Felicity Permenter-Davis. Perez also had an assist, as did Eva LaVecchia and Emily Riggins, who was named league MVP after the game.

Goalkeeper Kate Boyle had seven saves for Sacred Heart (9-5-2).

"This run has been crazy," said Perez, who was named game MVP. "It’s been a hell of a ride."

But the Friars aren’t done yet. St. Anthony’s faces the Archdiocese of New York champion at 4:30 p.m. Monday at Aviator Sports in Brooklyn.

"Honestly, we have to forget about this whole league championship thing and start a whole new season," Perez said. "These two state [playoff games] have nothing to do with what we’ve done so far. We just have to start from the beginning again."

However, some of the Friars were a little reflective after such an important victory. Defenders Sonoma Adams and LaVecchia and forwards Perez and Riggins are known as the Friars’ Fab Four. All four are seniors who have started every contest since their sophomore season.

"Every game is a competition, and every game we have someone chasing us, so it’s never easy," said Adams, who will attend and play at Dartmouth next season. "But this is one of the best feelings in the world to be able to continue to do this."

Never knowing when it might be someone’s time to shine.

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