St. Francis Prep has forged a reputation over the last few years as one of the best teams in the CHSAA on the strength of small, technically gifted players.
The Terriers are again among the favorites to compete for the CHSAA Class AA crown, but this year the look is slightly different.
Six players on the roster are 6-feet or taller. In the fast and physical game that high school soccer has become, St. Francis Prep is well equipped to challenge for the city title.
“This year it’s a little different,” senior midfielder Chris Joseph said. “We don’t really have the technical, but we have a lot more hard working, tough big guys, which we’ve never had. We have more horses this year”
Terriers coach Franco Purificato isn’t sure why he’s got size the St. Francis Prep football team would be jealous of, but he’s also not complaining.
“It’s the water, I think,” he said joking. “We have a nice combination of size, strong players and technical players.”
The tallest player on the pitch is Steven Reid, a 6-foot-5 senior goalkeeper who backed up Joseph Cala a year ago, but earned some valuable big-game experience when Cala received a red card in the city semifinal against Iona Prep. Reid acquitted himself well in that penalty-kick loss and again against Chaminade in the CHSAA state final.
“I think it’s nice he’s gotten that taste and experience in the big game,” Purificato said.
A starter since a freshman, Christian Molano is a senior sweeper who anchors a rebuilt backline.
“We’re working on it,” Molano said. “I really think they can be a good defense. We have to work on the chemistry in the back a bit.”
Anthony Scarallo, a weapon with his mile-long throw-ins, started at sweeper on the JV city championship squad, but he’ll be a fullback on varsity.
The other starting fullback is expected to be George Thomatos, a “super technical” junior, according to Purificato. They are among a handful of players up from JV who lost one game in two years.
Joseph is back as a threat on the outside right of the midfield, while Christian Mosqueira will be on the left. While Frank Biordi graduated, there’s experience in the middle of the park with returnees Eric Mirkov and Enrique Hidalgo.
Up front, Kenny Redzematovic and Jason Gonzalez both return.
“That’s got to be one of the more dangerous combinations in the league,” Purificato said.
Purificato said all the talk that surrounded the Terriers a year ago, which included the program’s first national ranking, adversely affected his team, despite a 16-3-0 record.
“I like that we’re not getting the hype from last year,” Purificato said. “It was a lot on the kids. Nobody is really saying anything about us this year and I’d like to keep it that way.”
Still, after losing in the semifinals a year ago and the title game two years ago, Joseph isn’t accepting anything short of the CHSAA crown this season.
"We were so close the last few years,” Joseph said. “I want to win something this year, we have to win something this year.”
Be sure to check out MSGVaristy.com tomorrow for a look at the No. 3 team in our NYC preseason boys soccer rankings.
Contact Dylan Butler at firstname.lastname@example.org
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