St. Francis Prep girls first to return to action in wake of attacks

By Dylan Butler

For the past couple of days, Lynne Dunham has been glued to the television. Like so many others around the country, the Whitestone resident has watched countless hours of television coverage of the horrific World Trade Center terrorist attacks. Even at school, Dunham finds the crashes a constant topic of conversation.

But for a mere 80 minutes Monday afternoon, the lush green grass and tranquility of Alley Pond Park in Oakland Gardens offered a brief respite, a small window of escape for Dunham and her teammates on the St. Francis Prep girls soccer team. And the Terriers certainly looked pleased to be back on the field as they hammered out a 9-0 win over St. Mary's of Manhasset.

“Every day I would come home from school and put on the television. I was in shock,” said Dunham, 16, who scored a hat trick in the romp. “But on the soccer field, you just think about soccer and nothing else.”

That’s not to say St. Francis Prep didn’t honor the thousands who died in the attacks. Before the game, Terriers head coach John Jenkins gathered his team in a circle, telling them how happy he was to be back on the field and leading them in a moment of silence as well as in prayer.

“If today was just a practice, we probably would have called it off,” Jenkins said. “But it was a great, great thing to get back on the field for this game. It was so positive.”

Terriers captain Filippa Petruccelli agreed. During the school day, the Flushing resident walks up and down the halls at St. Francis Prep collecting money for the relief effort as a member of the Student Council. But finally Monday the 16-year-old midfielder could get back to thinking about the sport she loves with incredibly tight-knit teammates.

“Sometimes it good to get a break from soccer, but these reasons were bad,” she said. “On the soccer field I can get it off my mind, to get my energy and frustrations out. Every teenager should do something to get their mind off of things.”

After 12 minutes of scoreless soccer, St. Francis Prep (1-1-1 Nassau-Suffolk Catholic High School Girls Athletic Association) broke out for five goals in a 21-minute span to put the game away by halftime.

Dunham got the scoring going in the 13th minute as her cross found Simone Canfarotta in the box, who chested the ball past St. Mary’s keeper Stephanie Castaldi to put the Terriers ahead 1-0.

In the 18th minute Prep senior Susan O’Connell found space on a great lead pass by Iman Sandimanie and lofted the ball off Castaldi’s right hand and inside the far post from 15 yards out to take a two-goal lead.

Christine Lettieri’s long-distance strike put Prep up 3-0 in the 26th minute and three minutes later it was Kaitlin Kostel who found the back of the net on a beautifully placed corner kick by Petruccelli. Dunham capped the first-half scoring with two goals in the final six minutes of the half to put the Terriers ahead 6-0 at the break.

The Terriers continued to control the game in the second half, but St. Mary’s substitute keeper Amy Delmore made a few brilliant saves early to stop Prep from adding on to its lead.

Dunham completed the hat trick in the 64th minute as she deked a defender at the top of the box, turned and fired the ball low past Delmore as St. Mary’s (1-2) trailed 7-0. Dunham collected her second assist of the game two minutes later as Laura Doyle scored off her corner kick and Lettieri netted her second goal of the game with three minutes left in the second half, firing the ball off the crossbar and in from the 18 yards out.

“Before the game coach Jenkins spoke about how happy he was to be here and that we were lucky to be such a tight group,” Dunham said. “I was touched by that. We played together and we had fun.”

Prep vs. Notre Dame rescheduled. The Terriers game against one of Staten Island’s top teams was slated for Sept. 12 at Fort Totten, but it was postponed. Jenkins said the game will be made up Sept. 28 back at Fort Totten. After a home game against St. Anthony’s Wednesday and a match at St. John Baptist Friday, St. Francis Prep hosts Holy Trinity Monday at 4 p.m.

Reach Associate Sports Editor Dylan Butler by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 143.

More from Around New York