St. Francis Prep likes to play the beautiful game, a possession-heavy style.
But there was nothing beautiful about the playing conditions for the Terriers CHSAA Class AA intersectional quarterfinal against Xavier at Maritime College in The Bronx.
“This was rain and snow, everything together,” a shivering St. Francis Prep forward Kenny Redzematovic said. “Given the weather, you have to adjust your game a little bit.”
That’s just what the Terriers did, beating the Knights, 3-0, in a match played in brutal weather Saturday morning.
With temperatures hovering around the freezing mark, winds gusting to 40-mph and a driving rain/sleet/snow mix, both teams struggled to keep possession.
“It was the worst game I’ve ever played in weather-wise since I’ve been in Prep,” St. Francis Prep midfielder Chris Joseph said.
A year ago, Joseph said, the Terriers might have let the weather conditions affect them adversely. But this is a hungrier squad, better than the one that also reached the CHSAA Class AA intersectional semifinals a year ago before being upset by eventual champion Iona Prep, according to Joseph.
“We have more players who want to work,” he said. “Last year we had a lot of skill, but we really didn’t have players who wanted to run and work hard. We have a lot more horses this year, players who will run and work hard and the skill is still there.”
One of those players is Redzematovic, who said it was important to get off to a good start against Xavier, which fell to 7-6-4.
“Our plan early was to finish them early, get a couple of goals in the beginning,” the junior forward.
St. Francis Prep (15-0-1), ranked No. 2 in New York City by MSG Varsity, did just that as Redzematovic beat James Kondrat to a ball and rounded the Xavier goalkeeper in the 15th minute.
That goal held up until the 44th minute when Jason Gonzalez scored on a low shot from 14 yards out.
The Terriers adjusted their style, abandoning the possession game for the killer through ball. It resulted in several scoring chances after halftime.
“We started playing long balls a little more,” St. Francis Prep coach Franco Purificato said. “Putting three, four, five passes together didn’t work.”
Redzematovic scored his second goal of the game in the 71st minute, stuffing in the second rebound of Lawrence Nikaj’s initial shot that was saved by Kondrat, booking the Terriers ticket in Thursday’s semifinals at Belson Stadium.
St. Francis Prep will meet either Iona Prep or Christ the King. That quarterfinal match was suspended following a scoreless first half. It will resume at the start of the second half at a date to be determined.
“Last year we were looking to go all the way, just like we are this year. But it got cut short a bit,” Redzematovic said. “This year I think we have a better squad and we’re better prepared.”
Joseph agrees and can’t wait for Thursday’s semifinal. For now, the Terriers captain, has more pressing plans.
“I’m going to go home and take a hot shower,” he said.
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