Girl Power! St. Francis Girls Win All Six Soccer Playoff Games
The first round of the CYO playoffs was a big success for St. Francis soccer, especially the girls' teams which advanced five squads to the finals and two others to the semifinals. The third grade and sixth grade boys also advanced.
In the Fifth Grade Girls division, SFDS has two teams. One earned a first round bye; the other played a memorable quarterfinal match against Our Lady of Hope.
After a tense, scoreless regulation the team battled through two overtime periods with the tally remaining 0-0.
Even the shootout went to extra shots thanks to clutch shooting and goaltending. St. Francis converted three consecutive do-or-die shots before a Kelly Davan save and Rory Kirk goal sealed a 1-0 win.
St. Francis' two teams are in separate brackets so an all-SFDS final is possible.
In the other five playoff-eligible brackets, every St. Francis girls' team advanced to the championship round. The Eighth Grade Girls made it to their final with a 2-0 victory over Blessed Trinity. After the game, our seniors stayed at Fort Tilden to root on the younger girls in their shootout.
The first half featured physical defensive play by both teams and was scoreless. Therese Boyle changed things two minutes into the second half, sprinting down the right side to score. Nicole Maranga made it 2-0 with a breakaway goal.
St. Margaret's tried to get back in the game with a two-on-none break, but midfielder Meaghan King sprinted back to cut off the passing lane and goalie Gabby Donofrio made a dazzling kick save to preserve the shutout.
The Fourth Grade Girls kept their playoff hopes alive with a 7-0 win over St. Mel's.
The rain came down and it did not slow the girls down.
Goals in the game were scored by Mari Di Carlo (2), Kelly Santiago (2), Kaitlin Neiswenter (2), and Emma Meade. The goals were assisted by Molly Breslin (2), Gwyn McGee (2), Megan Twomey, Kelly Santiago, and Maria Di Carlo.
The team controlled the action all first half due to the tremendous passing and dribbling by Courtney McCool, Emma Meade, Lauren Marten, Nicole Gibson, and Devin Gavigan.
The second half was dominated with ball control by Rose Fay, Carli Bopp, Jessica Rivera, Alex Weigert and Bridget O'Rourke. The impenetrable defense of Mollie Kuhlmann, Paulina Ruta, Meghan Gigliello, Ava Evangelista, Keira Walsh and Taylor Tsatsis made the job of Goalie Bridget Breslin seem unnecessary.
Breslin did have to show her skills making two great diving plays on a wet muddy field stopping any chance of St. Mel's from scoring and solidifying the victory for the home team.
The Third Grade Girls scored a 3-1 victory over Blessed Trinity in the torrential rain and mud bowl that was Fort Tilden-2. As the game got underway, Blessed Trinity scored quickly. It is always tough to come from behind, but our girls were relentless.
There were numerous breakaways by Katie Marquardt and Breanne McDonnell that got mired in the particularly muddy west end of the field. Finally, with minutes left to play, Katie Barrett, playing the wing position perfectly, found the back of the net after receiving a crossover pass from Claire Hughes.
With the score 1-1, the girls put tremendous pressure on the Blessed Trinity goalie throughout the second half. Breanne McDonnell scored a beautiful goal off a nice pass from Maddie McDade, putting St. Francis in the lead, 2-1. The pressure continued with the girls using the sidelines beautifully. Meagan Duffy and Kelly Ward made key passes from the corners. Katie Marquardt put in the final insurance goal off a great pass from Ashley Kelly. Jessica Morelli and Jessica Buckley anchored the defense, staving off any of Blessed Trinity's threats.
Special kudos go to Sinead Gallagher and Makayla Beehler, who performed heroically in goal despite the awful conditions. The Third Grade Boys also triumphed in a close match, edging St. Gregory's 1-0 in a game where both teams gave it their all until the final whistle.
In their final match of the season, the Second Grade Boys squared off with the boys of Blessed Trinity under the lights in Roxbury last Friday evening. Right out of the gate, the Frannies applied constant pressure to the defense and the goalie, and thwarted each offensive drive that Trinity attempted with their typical stingy defense that is difficult to penetrate.
In this game Shoeless Joe Braskey actually kept them both on for the entirety of the match and used them to power a pair of goals past the doorman of Trinity to give the Frannies an early lead.
Trinity answered back quickly to keep the game within striking distance, but before the half, Crazy Legs Connelly let one loose into the top corner of the net to give the Frannies a comfortable 3-1 lead at the half.
In the second frame the blessed boys of Trinity brought tension back to the game as they crept closer with a score.
Unfortunately, as quickly as it was close again, it became out of reach as the big boot of Crazy Legs went wild and impressively lobbed goals from the outer reaches earning his first career hat trick. James Carson, Kevin Murphy, and Kennedy Kirk had many near misses in this bout as well.
The staunch defense of Jack Mc- Dade, Brian Keane and Billy Lathan was as neutralizing as ever and the nonstop energy of Aidan Smith and Donato Somerville led the Frannies to a victory while closing out a tremendous season.
At 5-1-4, this Frannies team was stopped by the other St Francis team (that they previously defeated) late in the year in their bid for the undefeated season.
Nonetheless, their never-say-die spirit and athletic grace was often poetry in motion on the field. Utilizing every player on the roster (21) in every game, logging minutes at every position throughout the season, this team embraced the team concept while earning the distinction of becoming true sportsmen and proud warriors transcending the game.