There was something missing for Brianna Jablonowski.
After playing for St. Anthony’s junior varsity team as a freshman, Jablonowski opted to play for a United States Soccer Developmental Academy team as a sophomore.
But Jablonowski missed the comradery that comes with playing soccer for her school, and applied for waiver to play for both her academy team and the St. Anthony's varsity team. The academy granted her request, and the Centerport native helped guide the Friars to their second straight CHSAA state championship last season as a junior.
"I really pushed to get that because the year I didn’t play, I kind of missed out on not only the winning, but the fun that comes with high school soccer,” Jabłonowski said. “So that really made me want to switch.”
The University of Virginia commit had 20 goals and six assists last season, including two goals each in the state semifinal and state championship wins.
“She’s a tremendous athlete, fit as anything, and very agile,” St. Anthony's coach Sue Alber said. “She’s very strong and uses her body well when she goes to the ball and she’s just tactically better than most girls at this age.”
Jablonowski was a welcomed addition by Alber last season, supplying another dangerous scorer to an already deep team.
“I think she realizes there’s a lot of positives that come out of high school ball,” Alber said. “Maybe, I think, she realizes she can be in an environment where she is a superstar and the go-to player and she can improve on being a better leader.”
Jablonowski’s skills go beyond just the ability to put the ball in the back of the net. She was one of 40 players in the country selected to play in the Allstate All-American Cup in Orlando, Florida, this summer. This season, Jablonowski will split time between midfield and forward, in part due to her exceptional foot skills that will even make Alber sit back in awe at times.
“Even players at practice are like, ‘What did you just do?’ " Alber said. “She’s very good with the ball at her feet and I think that will be a huge asset with her game this year.”
Jablonowski even surprises herself at times.
“I guess it’s just years of practice and training and really loving the game,” she said. “You want to do it and learn, so it’s just exploring I guess.
“I’m just like, ‘Wow, that worked,’ ” she added with a laugh. “I just hope it works mostly.”
St. Anthony’s graduated a strong senior class, including Brianna Passaro, who was Newsday’s player of the year, but the Friars feature a talented senior core in Samantha Adams, Nicole Gordon, Kaitlyn Mahoney, and Victoria Mule, along with Jablonowski.
“We want to try to repeat what we did last year,” said Jablonowski, a Newsday All-Long Island selection last season. “We have a lot of new girls coming in, we graduated a lot of seniors, and we want to remember their legacy and do the same thing.”