By Joseph Staszewski
Medina Mulic turned Diana Paravatos’ “oops” into an “oh.”
The Christ the King senior defender meant to put a 30-yard free kick from the right side on goal and try to score early in the first half. Instead, the ball drifted into the left side of the box.
Mulic rushed it, controlled it with her chest and tapped the ball past the keeper in the 18th minute. It proved to be the winning goal in the Royals’ 2-0 victory over Kennedy Catholic in a CHSAA girls’ soccer crossover game at Juniper Valley Park Sept 6.
“I was like, ‘Dammit’ and then when I see her I’m like, ‘Oh, she got it,’” Paravatos said. “I have faith in her.”
Mulic said she could tell the pass wasn’t what Paravatos meant, but the junior star took full advantage of it. Noticing the defenders behind her, she made a dash for the ball and didn’t miss the chance to score. Sophomore Kiana Leger netted the second Royals goal by chipping a feed from Dana Velasquez over the keeper’s head in the 70th minute.
“I just ran into it,” Mulic said. “I thought I was going to be called off sides, but I just kept running.”
It was all part of a dominant performance for the Royals, the three-time defending CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens Class AA champions, against the only school to beat them last year during the regular season. The Gaels’ best chance to score came two minutes after the first CK goal, but the shot from inside the box hit off the facing of the post.
“We had that circled on our calendars,” said CK Coach John Fayad, of playing Kennedy. “That is one of many goals we have.”
While the coach would have liked to have seen his team convert more of its own scoring chances, it was a strong performance for the CK defense that lost Destiny Marino. Freshman Julianna Lignowski is playing beyond her years early. Paravatos, Stephanie Zdazenski and Aimee Teitelbaum are flourishing in bigger roles. Second-year goalie Kim Moreira looks more confident and aggressive in net.
The Royals offense should be just as dangerous with Mulic and Sarah Nolan back. Both were All-Queens first team selections by TimesLedger Newspapers last season. Leger is being asked to fill in for the graduated Francesca Giglio. Her physical presence will take some pressure off Mulic as part of a unit that could end up being the most skilled in Fayad’s tenure.
“I could tell during the first few days of practice that this team was more technical,” he said. “They all know how to control the ball. They all see the field and look at the bigger picture.”
For the Royals, the biggest picture is a fourth-straight diocesan title and finally getting a chance to play for a CHSAA state crown. CK hasn’t won a game in the state playoffs in its three tries and it wants to end that drought this year.
“We want to go all the way this year and win states,” Mulic said.