There wasn’t much of a countdown on the St. Anthony’s girls soccer sideline, but there were hugs, tears and joy.
The girls couldn’t wait. As the last three seconds ticked away, the squad rushed the field, piling on top of each other in celebration. The Friars, for the second year in a row, are undefeated and the state CHSAA girls soccer champions after defeating Nichols (Buffalo), 3-0, Sunday at the College of Staten Island.
“It’s been an amazing two years winning back-to-back,” senior midfielder Lauren Haggerty said. “We knew we had a hard season ahead of us and we wanted to back up last year’s win. We knew today wasn’t going to be a light game but we came together. This win means everything to me.”
Nichols goalkeeper Bella Simoncelli presented the Friars with a tough challenge. She was aggressive coming out of the net and caught several corner kicks.
“To be honest, this was our most challenging state final and our team stepped up today,” coach Sue Alber said.
It was a long first half for the Friars (17-0). There were a few shots on goal but between Simoncelli and shot placement, nothing was hitting the back of the net until Brianna Jablonowski scored on a shot to the upper left corner from 20 yards with 58 seconds left in the half.
“I wasn’t sure if I was going to play school soccer this year and I’m so glad I did,” said Jablonowski, who had two goals. “I learned so much from these girls. As a unit we came together to persevere even through our challenging games. The win is like nothing else.”
And the Friars’ season has been like nothing else. They haven’t lost or tied a game since 2016. They scored 76 goals, up 14 from last year, with 20 of them coming from Jablonowski.
Brianna Passaro had 21 goals this season. The senior forward ended her career with a penalty kick in the second half. “When you go 1-on-1 with the keeper there is pressure, but when your whole team supports you the pressure is off,” Passaro said.
The defense is good under pressure as well. Kaitlyn Mahoney made 58 saves this season, including two in her 11th shutout.
“Our number one goal is to not concede as many goals as possible,” Haggerty said. “Our defense does an outstanding job.”
Said Jablonowski, a junior: “I hope next year we have the same intensity. Hopefully I can emulate how the seniors set an example for us this year.”