By Dylan Butler
So who is the top soccer family in Queens? I’ve pondered that question for some time, and after careful consideration I am prepared to give my list of the top four.
But first, a few ground rules. To be in consideration, there must be more than two siblings to have played or currently play soccer. Sorry, Shaun and Michael Higgins and Alex and Sal Silaco (among others), but you didn’t make the cut.
Also, this is immediate family only. I’m sure someone in Queens can track his or her family tree back to Pele himself, but they ain’t making the cut, either.
This was a close one. If this were the Belmont Stakes, it would have been a photo finish. If it were a soccer game, it would have been decided in penalty kicks. That’s how close it was between No. 1 and No. 2 on this list. And No. 3 and No. 4 weren’t too far behind.
OK, before anyone gets the wrong idea — since I am known to occasionally mangia at Acquista’s Trattoria — no gnocchi was passed under the table. There were no backroom deals for a special shipment of Mama Acquista’s homemade Tiramisu.
Choosing the Acquistas as the top soccer family has to do with one thing only — soccer.
Rosario Acquista, the father of five soccer-playing sons, was a standout at Long Island City and won three city championships from 1969-71.
His eldest son, Joe Acquista, attended St. Francis Prep and went on to play at Division I Oneonta, where he was a starting defender.
While Joe had a good collegiate career, it is Carlo Acquista who seals the deal for his family to earn top prize here (although there really isn’t a prize).
Carlo Acquista bucked the trend and went to St. Francis Prep’s biggest rival, Holy Cross. He won three CHSAA city championships and went to St. John’s University on a full ride.
As a freshman, Acquista helped lead the Red Storm to the first national championship in school history, even assisting on the game-winning goal in a 2-1 semifinal victory over Creighton.
After a stellar collegiate career playing for one of the top teams in the country, Acquista became one of the youngest Division I coaches in the nation when he was named head coach at St. Francis College last summer.
Alessandro Acquista also attended Holy Cross, where he won two city and state championships. After a year at St. John’s, Alessandro Acquista will be a junior starting midfielder for brother Carlo at St. Francis.
Paolo Acquista, Alessandro’s fraternal twin, has always been in the shadows of Carlo and Alessandro but was a steady starting defender on Holy Cross’ back-to-back city and state championship teams. After a year at Wesley College, Paolo joins his other two brothers at St. Francis College.
Last and not least in the Acquista clan is Fabio Acquista, who won the JV city championship in a penalty kick thriller over Molloy in November.
Once again the Petrucelli’s legacy begins with the patriarch, Giulio Petruccelli, who played high school soccer at Cardozo.
His eldest son, Armando Petruccelli, was probably the best soccer player of anyone on this list. After a fantastic career at Holy Cross, where he became the school’s second-ever All-American, he started a few games with the U.S. Under-18 national team before going on to Harvard, where he was a four-year starter.
Teresa Petruccelli followed and could very well be the greatest female soccer player in Queens ever. She dominated at St. Francis Prep, won a W-League national championship with the Long Island Lady Riders and had a solid four-year career at Boston University before being slowed by back problems.
Joseph Petruccelli played on the same championship Holy Cross teams with Alessandro and Paolo Acquista and went on to play at Division III Vassar in upstate Poughkeepsie.
The last of the Petruccelli clan is Filippa Petruccelli, who had the daunting task of following in her sister’s footsteps at St. Francis Prep. But she did more than enough to make her own name before also heading to Boston, where started 19 of 20 games at Northeastern, where she was named to the America East All-Rookie team.
While they finished a very close second to the Acquistas, the Petruccellis can certainly lay claim to the smartest soccer family.
The original kings of Queens soccer and still the largest family, with six brothers to play Division I soccer. The first two were Jimmy Triana and Freddy Triana, who were part of the LIC dynasty and, along with younger brother George Triana, then played for the Fairleigh Dickinson national powerhouse teams of the mid-70s.
Next up was Eddie Triana, who went to a Connecticut prep school before he attended Columbia University and captained the 1977-78 team that went to the Final Four. John Triana also went to a prep school in Connecticut and then went to FDU.
Finally there was Harry Triana, who was the captain of the 1991 city championship team at McClancy. The talented midfielder then went to Ulster Community College and won a Big East championship at St. John’s in 1995.
George Lesmes was also a standout at Long Island City High School and his eldest son, also named George, went to Molloy before entering the U.S. Marine Corp. He will play soccer for Carlo Acquista at St. Francis College in the fall.
David Lesmes went to McClancy High School before leaving to attend soccer powerhouse St. Benedicts in New Jersey, where he captained the team as a senior. David Lesmes will begin his second year at St. Francis College in the fall.
Last, and certainly not least, in the Lesmes trio is Richie Lesmes, who followed David from McClancy to St. Benedicts before one memorable year at Newtown. He led the Pioneers to the city championship and was named TimesLedger PSAL Soccer Player of the Year. Instead of joining his brothers at St. Francis College, Lesmes will play at St. Peter’s College in the fall.
Reach Associate Sports Editor Dylan Butler by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 143.