Rini's revenge: Senior leads Farrell over Mount
Mark Rini wasn't satisfied with how things ended for his team last season. And neither were his teammates.
After successfully making it to the NYCHSAA Class A final against Mount St. Michael last year, Monsignor Farrell saw its hopes of a championship dashed with a disappointing loss to its Bronx rival. It was its third loss to the Mountaineers for the season and unquestionably the most painful.
"We hadn't been to the championship game in a few years and when we made it last year, we were very excited about it, " said Monsignor Farrell head coach Steve Layman. "Going out on the losing end, everyone was pretty disappointed. This was the first game that we starred on the calendar this year and we wanted to get a little revenge, we wanted to get payback for them ending our season last year."
The loss was a sentiment that particularly hung on Rini's head, given how injuries forced him out of the championship game.
"Last year, we went 0-3 against them, including the championship," Rini said. "We also lost our starting goalie and myself during the game because of injuries. We both got hurt and we couldn't play for the rest of the game. That really got to me that we couldn't finish and help our team win. This year, we came out playing hard and we wanted to win this from the beginning."
The senior midfielder more than backed up his statement on his home field, recording a hat trick on his way to leading his team to a dominating 4-1 performance against Mount St. Michael Tuesday afternoon.
While the action began with a Mountaineers goal to put them up early, it would not be indicative of the majority of the game. Senior midfielder Mike McBrien recorded Mount St. Michael's only score of the game by running past two defenders with a burst of quickness and slinging it past Lions goalie Joseph Lio.
Rini answered with his 12th goal of the season with 8:31 to go in the second quarter to tie the game. It was Monsignor Farrell's sixth consecutive shot on goal and Mountaineer's senior goalie Arben Gashi was doing all he could to stop the onslaught. With just seconds to go in the quarter, Rini again scored off a cross-body shot that made it pass the pipes as time expired.
"He's our MVP. We look to him a lot," Layman said. "He's a three-year varsity player and he has the best shot on our team. He can do it all. He's a big aggressive kid, he dominated faceoffs and he helped us come up big today."
The halftime stat-line was all you needed to know about just how aggressive the Lions were. Monsignor Farrell racked up 14 shots to just two from the Mountaineers, it shut them out in faceoffs 9-0, and it gave Gashi all he could handle with him having to make 12 saves to Lio's one.
"He had an unbelievable game," Layman said. "We kept peppering shots right on him and he just came up big for them. We couldn't get it by him. We got some momentum and luckily we got a few goals."
Gashi finished with an impressive 15 saves, especially considering the Lions recorded 34 shots with 19 of them on goal. Monsignor Farrell had so thoroughly dominated the action that the Mountaineers (3-5) didn't record a goal for an astounding 25 minutes. Rini completed his trifecta with yet another goal as time expired in the third quarter.
"We made it a point to be more aggressive today," Rini said. "We passed the ball well and we picked up ground balls. We did everything we needed to do today."
The Lions dominated the majority of the fourth quarter by stalling in the box, effectively keeping the ball out of the Mountaineers' possession for the rest of the game. Senior defender Vinny DiMare scored the last goal of the game when he found himself with an open net on a break with 43 seconds to go.
"I saw the goalie was out of the net and the ball was loose," said the elated DiMare. "All I was thinking 'Please, please let this go in.' It was my first goal of my career while playing defense."
After the win, the team celebrated like a monkey was finally off its back after defeating its biggest foil from last season. Rini summed up exactly what the moment felt like for his team.
"I really wanted to beat this team, I wanted to get revenge from last year. I just wanted to score and do everything I could to beat this team."
Now with their demons firmly exorcised, the Lions (6-1) are looking forward to continuing their impressive season.
"Anytime we play a CHSAA opponent, we have to beat them because we want home field advantage for the playoffs," Layman said. "We're 3-0 in our league so far and we just want to keep that going."