The old saying rang true, streaks were meant to be broken.
Behind first half goals from Brendan Reardon and Joe Busuttil, St. Anthony’s defeated Martin Luther King, 2-0, at Belson Stadium on the campus of St. John’s University Tuesday afternoon. The loss snaps the No. 2 ranked team in the nation, according to National Soccer Coaches Association of America, at 26 matches.
In a game where MLK (7-1-0) dominated in key statistics such as time of possession, shots, shots on goal and corners, it was the Friars (5-0-1) who came up with timely execution that made the difference.
In the sixth minute, Reardon scored his team-high fourth goal of the season. “We had a good start,” says the senior. “We possessed the ball well. We had a couple of chances earlier, but Kevin [Skaalerud] hit a through ball, the goalie came out, and I just hit it on.”
From that point on, the Friars would make a concerted effort at remaining strong defensively in front of goalkeeper Conor McElhinney.
However, the Knights would put the Friars defense to the test as the high-powered offense proved why they have been the No. 1 ranked team in New York City for the last 13 straight months by MSG Varsity.
Opportunity after opportunity from Amara Sesay, Kerfala Sylla, and Mouhamod Keita went either begging or were thwarted by McElhinney.
The best chance to tie the game at one came a minute after Reardon netted his goal. With MLK driving down the field, Sesay received the ball outside of the Friars 18-yard box and promptly delivered a shot that appeared destined for the back corner of the goal. However, McElhinney was able to punch it over the crossbar for a corner kick that amassed to nothing for the Knights.
“Conor was great,” said Reardon. “When he is on his game, he is the best around.”
McElhinney deflected the praise to his defensive unit, though.
"My back four and my midfielders really do a great job game in and game out," he said. "It was just a great team effort. They made my job very easy.”
The senior, a third-string goaltender a year ago, was credited with five saves on the afternoon en route to his fifth clean sheet of the 2012 campaign.
However, the Friars were not out of trouble yet. At any moment the offense for MLK that had been knocking on the door all game, could finally breakthrough.
That was when Joe Busuttil put some thoughts at ease. His goal in the 35th minute, stemmed from a Matt Ostermann direct kick near the midfield line was headed perfectly by Mark Jecewiz to the foot of Busuttil, who beat the keeper just outside the six-yard box to cap the scoring at 2-0.
“I’m so excited. It was a whole team effort,” says Jecewiz. “Everyone gave 100 percent. I can’t believe it.”
From here the Knights will look to rebound.
“This is a test right here. Where are they going to put their heads? Are we going to be able to rebound?” MLK coach Marty Jacobson said. “We had possession. We needed to capitalize a little more. Hopefully these guys learn from that. I guarantee we’ll make our run. Right to the top.”
As for St. Anthony’s, McElhinney’s message his clear on the potential of his squad. “The sky is the limit. That’s all I’m going to say, the sky is the limit.”
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