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St. Anthony's girls soccer holds first team activity, has no issue wearing masks

St. Anthony's junior forward Olivia Perez discusses being

St. Anthony’s junior forward Olivia Perez discusses being able to return to practice ahead of CHSAA girls soccer play on Monday, September 21, 2020 at St. Anthony’s High School.  Credit: Newsday / Owen O'Brien

If wearing a mask means having a full season, you won’t hear any complaints from the St. Anthony’s girls soccer team.

The Friars held their first team activity Monday, the first day Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo allowed high school sports to resume. St. Anthony’s opened with a clinic/tryout with players and coaches in masks. They were just happy to be back on the field.

"We will do anything we can to play," junior forward Olivia Perez said. "Even with a mask on, we don’t care."

In the 49-page document of guidelines for the resumption of fall sports drafted by the NYSPHSAA’s COVID Task Force, the protocols called for athletes to wear face coverings at all times "unless unable to tolerate face covering for physical activity."

Friars players and coaches are adjusting and training while wearing masks with hopes to return to play around Columbus Day.

"This is literally our first day, so we’ll see how it goes," senior center midfielder Chiara Greco said. "It should be all right. It may be a little hard to breathe, but it’s better than having no season, so I’ll take it."

Coach Sue Alber handed each girl a numbered practice pinny Monday, which has to be washed after every practice. St. Anthony’s, winners of the last three CHSAA state championships, often plays some of the top competition in the region. But this fall, the Friars are just focused on getting on the field, however, there will be no state championships.

"You just have to be smarter and put the kids’ health first," Alber said. "Right now, it’s more about just getting the kids out and playing and not being overly concerned about results and who you are going to play against. It’s more about getting the kids out there healthy."

When Nassau and Suffolk postponed their fall seasons to 2021, St. Anthony’s players were uncertain if they’d be on a varsity field this calendar year. And now, they aren’t taking anything for granted.

"No one was really too optimistic when Nassau and Suffolk canceled," Greco said. "So once we found out [we were playing] we went crazy in our group chat."

"This is my senior year, so I’m making the most of it," said defender Natalie DeMasi. "In the midst of everything, it’s nice to have it."

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