By Stephen Zitolo
Coach John Fayad decided to make a switch for the sake of change in the biggest game of the season and it paid dividends for his Christ the King team.
This was the third time this season the Royals played Mary Louis. Even though CK beat the Hilltoppers twice, Fayad changed his lineup to try and gain an upper hand. He moved star and strong-legged midfielder Medina Mulic to defense to make it harder for TMLA to defend her.
“This was the third time we played them, so I figured I would show them a different formation,” Fayad said.
The move worked to perfection. The Royals took an early two-goal lead, which included a score form Mulic and rolled to a 5-1 victory over the Hilltoppers in the CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens Class AA girls soccer final Saturday at a rainy and windy Aviator Sport Complex. It is the Royals’ fourth straight crown, with all wins coming over TMLA.
“It feels fantastic,” Fayad said. “We had a game plan and it thankfully went our way.”
The game was played in wet, windy, and cold conditions. But Christ The King (11-0-1) was in control of the game from start to finish.
“It was just as cold out here for us as it was for them,” Mulic said. “We both had to deal with the weather.”
Added sophomore Kiana Leger: “It was hard for us to catch our breath.”
Leger got the Royals on the board when she outran the Mary Louis defenders and scored in the first five minutes. Four minutes later Mulic scored on a booming 40-yard kick that got a boost from the wind to put Christ the King up 2-0. Leger was again a thorn in the side of Mary Louis when she found the back of the net late in the first half to make it 3-0.
Mary Louis (3-9-5) came out in the second half with the wind at their backs and scored a goal in the first few minutes of the second half on a strike from sophomore Gwynivere McGee. Mary Louis seemed to be back in the game down just 3-1.
Sarah Nolan and Andrea Cardozo each scored for Christ the King to put the game out of reach.
The Royals move on to the state tournament and face the Monsignor Martin winner in the semifinals 2 p.m. Sunday at Owl Hallows Park on Staten Island. CK has yet to win a state playoff game during its run atop the diocese. Christ the King believes this year could be different.
“States are really difficult,” Fayad said. “But I think that we have the team to compete this year.”