Archbishop Molloy had designs on avenging last year’s CHSAA Class AA title defeat when they traveled on Columbus Day to take on defending champions Fordham Prep.
But the Stanners game plan wasn’t coming to fruition as they stared at a one-goal deficit on the scoreboard at halftime. The final 40 minutes proved however that Molloy made the necessary adjustments.
Molloy stormed out in the second half with goals from Jesse Rodrigues and gained the eventual winner in the 68th minute by Tim Deliyannis to earn a 2-1 victory over Fordham Prep at Murphy Field in the Bronx.
“Last year they finished off that season of ours and we wanted that payback. We came back with heart,” Rodrigues said. “We started off a little off and in the second half we knew we what had to get done and we did and I’m proud of my team.”
Archbishop Molloy, ranked No. 4 in New York City and No. 15 in the Tri-State by MSG Varsity, had been looking for consistency after recording four draws in its last five league contests. For most of the second half, Molloy played a physical brand of soccer and was also the beneficiary of a strong effort by midfielder Terence Coppinger.
The senior’s quick feet forced a second half penalty that allowed Rodrigues to tie the game and his assist on Deliyannis’ goal helped the visitors record a significant win and improve to 7-0-4 on the season. The Rams (9-2-1), ranked No. 10 in the MSG Varsity Tri-State Top 20 poll, had their 34-game league unbeaten streak snapped.
“Guys started to realize how they should play. But that’s been a struggle all year,” said Molloy coach Andy Kostel. “It hasn’t been the same all the time. Some guys really played very well so it was the right time for them to play well.”
Molloy was on the back foot for the majority of the first half and Fordham Prep capitalized in just the fourth minute of the game. Derek Conlon crossed a pass from the left wing over two defenders and located teammate Luke McNamara as he slotted home the goal to give the Rams a 1-0 lead.
The visitors briefly came to life in the 31st minute when Rodrigues had his low line-drive shot from 18 yards out saved by diving Rams keeper Will Marment. It was a brief spell of good play that showed Molloy what it needed to do in the second half.
Molloy attacked the ball more and used the counter-attack to great effect. Coppinger took a long pass down the sideline and was taken down by a Rams defender inside the penalty box in the 49th minute. Rodrigues, the team’s leading scorer, calmly placed the penalty kick to the left of Marment to help Molloy tie the game.
Coppinger dashed past another Rams defender down the left wing and crossed to Deliyannis. The junior took one touch and roofed it to middle of the net in the 68th to give his ecstatic Stanners a 2-1 advantage.
“It felt like I needed to calm down, it was a perfect ball and it made it easier to slide the ball,” Deliyannis said. “I’m thinking I’m just trying to put this away. I’m not nervous. I just put it away and it worked.”
Fordham Prep could not duplicate the fluid passing and movement in the second half and suffered a blow when leading scorer Alex Canicatti was handed a red card for dissent in the 71st minute. With the Rams down to 10 men, the hosts still almost had a chance to equalize when Conlon headed a free kick just over in the 78th minute.
Fordham Prep coach Pete McNamara said it was a lesson to many of his young underclassmen how to play in a pressure filled situation against one of the top teams in the league. The Rams won’t have much time to dwell since they must gear up for a tough road contest at Monsignor Farrell Tuesday afternoon and without their key playmaker and scorer Canicatti.
“We haven’t been in too many situations like that this year. It’s a good learning experience,” McNamara said. “It’s fine. Its not playoffs yet. It was a very good test. Molloy finished their chances and good for them.”