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Resurgent Molloy eyes playoff run – QNS.com

Resurgent Molloy eyes playoff run

Six weeks ago, Archbishop Molloy’s underwhelming season was in doubt. Their coach, John McGlynn, abruptly resigned and the Stanners were unsure if their season would continue.
In stepped Dom Cecala, the girls jayvee coach, who lacked any varsity coaching experience.
Everything improved that day. Cecala, who had known many of the varsity players from his AAU team, the New York Xplosion, and the jayvee, ignited life into a lifeless group. He saw a tight unit lacking confidence and direction, and injected them with those qualities.
“The first thing I said was: ‘I believe in you,” he recalled. “There’s a lot of talent in here.’”
Cecala relaxed his new players by cracking jokes and easing the relationship between player and coach. He encouraged the four sophomores - Kelly Guerriero, Kelly Robinson, Elise Lontos and Marielle Duryea - and let seniors Kerri White and Molly Dreyer lead.
In the 11 games since Cecala took over, the Stanners have responded. They have won nine times while prevailing in five of six league games, including a shocking upset of Christ the King February 9. It was the Royals’ first divisional loss since January 19, 2000, a string of 108 consecutive victories.
“He kind of settled us down,” Guerriero said. “When he came in, he wasn’t strict, he wasn’t making rules. He made us all feel comfortable.”
The turning point, Guerriero said, was the victory over Christ the King. Molloy trailed by 10 in the third quarter, but railed to force overtime and then overcame the Royals in the extra session.
They followed with victories over division rivals Bishop Ford and Mary Louis, teams that had beaten them earlier in the year, to garner the second seed in the upcoming playoffs. The second spot gave Molloy a bye in the first round. Although the Stanners will likely draw the Hilltoppers in the semifinals, going from fifth place to second, White said, is a confidence builder nevertheless. It gave them a sense of accomplishment.
Molloy is favored to see Christ the King in the Brooklyn/Queens Diocesan finals. It would be a rematch of several meetings between the two teams in recent years. Three consecutive seasons, the two teams collided there, all won by the Royals.
Before last year’s step back, the Stanners had threatened CK behind point guard Rosalyn Gold-Onwude (now at Stanford) and forward Jessica McEntee (NYU). The two could never get by Christ the King.
Cecala remembered those games, and the feeling at the Briarwood school about that team. However, he secretly felt their greatest chance to knock off the Middle Village powerhouse would come a few years later when White and Dreyer were seniors and would be surrounded by talented youngsters.
By beating CK, the Stanners accomplished what was deemed an unlikely feat during the regular season. However, their ultimate mission- ending the Royals’ run of 23 straight Brooklyn/Queens Diocesan crowns - still awaits.
“It’s a challenge,” White said. “We’re ready for it.”

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