Chris Wood was a little behind his teammates after missing some time in the preseason with a hip injury. It's safe to say the St. Anthony's senior has caught up.
Wood scored two goals and Conor McElhinney made eight saves, including one on a penalty kick, to lift visiting St. Anthony's past St. John the Baptist, 2-0, Tuesday in CHSAA boys soccer. It was a rematch of last season's final won by SJB (1-1, 0-1).
Wood and McElhinney are emblematic of this St. Anthony's team. Both are seniors who rarely played last season. The Friars return only two starters and lost four players to the U.S. Soccer Academy. The Friars lack experience but have a lot of talent.
"At St. Anthony's, the competition is so great that you don't really get a starting spot until your senior year," McElhinney said. "Last year, I sat behind two great goaltenders who helped me learn the game."
Wood also didn't play much and showed the missed time in the preseason had no impact. Wood scored off a through ball from Brendan Reardon to give the Friars a 1-0 lead 14:53 into the game. Wood added another goal with 18:46 left.
"I give credit to my teammates," Wood said. "They found me and I tried to put away as many as I could."
McElhinney made eight saves, the biggest coming on a penalty kick with 34:19 left.
"I caused it and had to redeem myself," he said. "I was fortunate to make the save."
St. John the Baptist played without Junior Rosero, one of the best players on the Island. Rosero, who had 18 goals last season, has a left foot injury and is expected to miss one week. The Cougars also played the final 26:36 down a man after a player received a red card.
"We had a lot of chances and you need to capitalize," SJB coach Nick Gallagher said. "I'm not disappointed, but I'm not happy. The effort was good. We need to be a little more cohesive in the midfield."
Some might underestimate the Friars (1-0, 1-0) because of their lack of experience, but they showed the ability is there.
"We have a young team, but they're very good players," St. Anthony's coach Gene Buonaiuto said. "I think this team is better than the one we had last year. We have the experience in the right places."