By Anthony Bosco
Steve Karaduzovic took over as head coach of the Christ the King varsity soccer team last season, with the hopes of rebuilding a program that all but evaporated four years before due to lack of student interest and school support.
But times have changed at the Middle Village school.
Karaduzovic’s young crew of players last year managed to hold their own against the Catholic High School Athletic Association’s ‘B’ teams, leading to the team taking the next step of joining the division as a full-time member this season.
“Accoring to our record we should have been in second place and made the playoffs,” Karaduzovic said of last year’s team. “We will do better than we did last year. The expectation of the team are a lot higher.”
The Royals have their work cut out for them this season playing in a division loaded with competitve teams, including the defending CHSAA ‘B’ city champions, the Monsignor McClancy Cursaders, St. John’s Prep and Cathedral Prep.
Christ the King will field a young team that features only a handful of upperclassmen, including co-captains Maciej Sickewski and Conrad Szepeniac. Karaduzovic referres to Sickewski as the heart and soul of the team, citing a game last year when the player dislocated his shoulder during a game, but didn’t tell his coach until after tha match was completed because he didnt want to come out of the game.
Perhaps the most talent on the team belongs to sophomore forward Michael Alesi, an import from Italy, whom Karaduzovic said will make a mark on the league immediately.
“He’s really one of the top forward players this year,” the coach said.
In addition to starting six freshman, Karaduzovic will rely on defenseman Anthony Favara and midfielder Phil Rappa.
“We should be a JV squad,” the coach said. “Two years from now I want to be one of the better teams in the league. That’s our plan, about two years from now.”
Karaduzovic also said that he is more than pleased with the support he has received from the school’s administration, which, he said, has invested “a lot of money” in the program and secured the prestigious Met Oval as the club’s home field.
“They are supporting me 100 percent,” Karaduzovic said. “Because we were so successful last year, we did well, I think they saw that something was there.”
Karaduzovic, 34, originally from Yugoslavia and now residing on Long Island, is also a referee at the professional level, officiating as high as the A League, which includes teams such as the Long Island Rough Riders.
The best team in the league, however, should undoubtedly be the McClancy Crusaders, who not only topped Salesian a year ago for the city ‘B’ crown, but beat ‘A’ teams St. Francis Prep and Xaverian during the regular season as well.
Head coach Gerry O’Riordan is returning nine starters and 17 players in all from the championship club, including standout Chris Megaloudis, making McClancy the team to beat again.
“This year, I’m pretty optimistic,” O’Riordan said. “But anyone can beat us. We were in a lot of close games last year.”
Megaloudis is one of three captains on the team, including midfielder Adrian Caballero and goalkeeper Giampaolo DiMicco. The team will also feature three sophomore and three junior starters.
“It’s still a pretty experienced team,” O’Riordan said.
The two remaining Queens teams in the division, Cathedral Prep and St. John’s Prep, will also try to keep pace with McClancy. St. John’s, coached by Pat O’Grady, is returning a host of players from last year’s club, as in Cathedral, who will be led by first-year coach Neil Francis.
Reach Sports Editor Anthony Bosco by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 130.