As the final seconds ticked down, the St. Anthony’s girls soccer team started a countdown on the sidelines. A vuvuzela blared monotonously in the stands while Friars fans chanted “Un-de-fea-ted.”
Then time ran out and the Friars completed an undefeated season, officially becoming the state CHSAA champions after defeating Xaverian (Brooklyn), 4-0, Sunday at SUNY-Maritime.
“We kept saying all year ‘We have to win,’ so to come out with the win today is such a good feeling,” Brianna Passaro said. “Knowing everyone came out to see us today builds a whole school camaraderie. It makes winning even better because everyone was here for the moment.”
The Friars went 17-0 this season with 12 shutouts. The defense and goalkeepers allowed only five goals all year.
“It’s amazing to be able to rely on your defense,” said Vanessa Cole, who recorded three saves. “I know if there’s a ball I can’t get to, all I have to do is open my mouth, tell my team where to be and they’ll listen.”
Jenn Bonifazio, defensive center-back, echoed that sentiment: “Our job is not to let goals in and that’s what we’ve been doing all season. It’s really satisfying, knowing that we got our job done and it’s led us here.”
The offense also did its job this season by scoring 62 goals, 20 of them coming from Passaro.
Lauren Hackett scored the first goal three minutes into the game off an assist from Passaro and Bonifazio.
Passaro, with 2:56 left in the half, received the ball from Lauren Haggerty and took a shot at the net. It was slightly deflected but Passaro tried again and scored.
Midway through the second half, Haggerty kicked the ball into play from the corner. After a scramble in front of the net, Alexandra Milano snuck the ball in for another goal. Passaro netted in the final goal, scoring from the right side after a pass from Bonifazio, with two minutes remaining in regulation.
The championship win was the cherry on top of a retribution season. After losing last year in the CHSAA final, the Friars set out to redeem themselves.
“We had a mission this year, to be number one, to be undefeated and we knew every game we won, it didn’t stop there,” Cole said. “We worked harder and harder and it paid off.”
Passaro, who is a junior, is ready to do it all again next season.
“This year was great. It was such a nice win,” Passaro sighed. “What a big relief. Now we have to win again next year. We’re not done yet.”