Olivia Perez of St. Anthony's controls the ball away from...

Olivia Perez of St. Anthony's controls the ball away from a St. Joseph Hill Academy player during a CHSAA state girls soccer semifinal at Aviator Sports and Events Center on Monday. Credit: Errol Anderson

The St. Anthony’s girls soccer team is one victory away from the goal it’s set aside since Day One, and the opportunity taken away through no fault of its own last year.

The Friars defeated St. Joseph Hill Academy, 3-0, in a girls soccer state CHSAA semifinal at the Aviator Sports and Events Center in Brooklyn Monday.

St. Anthony’s (19-0) will play St. Mary’s at the Nardin Academy in Buffalo Saturday at 11 a.m. for the opportunity to win its fourth-straight state title. The Friars claimed the league title last year but there were no state championships because of the COVID-19 pandemic. St. Joseph Hill Academy finished 13-3-2.

"Everything we’ve worked toward is for this," said Olivia Perez, who scored two goals. "We want to be state champions again. We want to four-peat and we gave it our all today."

Perez opened the scoring by finishing a perfectly placed through ball from Emily Hiney with 6:25 remaining in the first half. She added the game’s final goal off an assist from Eva LaVecchia with 35:33 remaining in the second half with the goal coming less than two minutes after Kaleigh Darby scored off an assist from Ashley Kozlowski.

"She’s just a player," coach Sue Alber said about Perez. "She shows up when we need her and she’s so dangerous with the ball, so dangerous in the attacking third. When she’s going to goal, she’s getting it in the back of the net. She’s been a key part of this team since sophomore year and I’m going to be sad to see her go, but we still have one more game with her."

St. Anthony’s brings a 34-game winning streak into the state final and no player wants this to be the team to snap that mark.

"We just want to keep the name going," senior defender Sonni Adams said. "My sister did it for her three years, everyone is talking about five-peat, six-peat because everyone wants to keep the name going and the program to continue to keep going well."

Adams was a part of a backline, including Tess Jablonowski, Sarah Sullivan, Amanda Dolan, LaVecchia and Hiney, that recorded its fourth shutout in the last five games. Madalyn Salkowsky had three saves.

"Each group definitely brings a different element to the game and here at St. Anthony’s and for us coaches, it’s expected to get to the state finals and win it," Alber said. "So I do think there’s motivation there to continue doing and it’s not easy to do."

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