Crusaders capture first championship

By Joseph Staszewski

Monsignor McClancy wasted little time going from an infant program to diocesan champion.

Victoria Ramirez’s first-half goal was enough to give the Crusaders a 1-0 victory over St. Saviour in the CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens Class A girls’ soccer final Saturday at the Aviator Sports Complex. The program began three years ago when the former all-boys’ school became co-ed. McClancy lost in the junior varsity title game last season before taking home the crown in its first varsity campaign.

“Over the years we got closer and closer to winning the championship,” junior sweeper Rebecca Bollman said. “Finally this year we did it.”

St. Saviour, which beat the Crusaders once during the regular season, put a scare into McClancy (11-6-1) early. Meghan McGinn fired a shot from inside the box flush off the crossbar. Bollman said the near score showed her team they could not wait to pick it up.

It did not take long for them to respond. Diana Jones sent a corner kick into the box and a scramble for the ball ensued. Ramirez had her first shot blocked by a St. Saviour defender. Her second attempt went off the bottom of the crossbar and in for the game’s only goal in the 19th minute. The junior was unsure of what was going to happen as she saw the ball heading for the bar.

“I didn’t think it was going to go in,” Ramirez said. “It went in and I said, ‘Thank God it went in,’”

The Crusaders’ defense led by Bollman and Emily Gonzalez took it from there. McClancy kept the ball to the outside and away from St. Saviour stars Katie O’Donnell and Kevina Shalvey at midfield. Nikole Saa helped McClancy put pressure on the St. Saviour defense.

The Pandas (8-5-2) had limited scoring chances, with many coming in the game’s closing minutes.

“I know if they pass the ball they get two or three passes and they are through the middle,” Crusaders coach Robert May said of the Pandas’ offense. “If we can break that up and get Cayle (Chavanne) to hustle, she went after everything. That’s what I asked them to do and they did it.”

The players said they were motivated by losing in the junior varsity final last year, not wanting to miss another chance at a crown.

They joked that they are keeping up with the boys’ program, which has won three straight CHSAA Class A championships.

The Crusaders should be the favorites to win it all again next season with no seniors on the roster. They are going to enjoy making history for now before they think about adding to it.

“It means so much,” junior Vanessa Castano said. “Everyone was counting on us to do really well and we brought it home.”

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