By Joseph Staszewski
The Archbishop Molloy seniors have known too much playoff heartbreak to let it happen again in their final high school season.
The majority of the group of 18 lost in the CHSAA city championship as sophomores on the junior varsity. There was pain again last year when the Stanners fell to Fordham Prep in the “AA” intersectional final and the state semifinals. They expect to put that all behind them this season, and end their careers as champions.
“We have some unfinished business,” senior defender Jack Mella said. “We are here. This is our last year. We are seniors. We want to win this year. This is our last time.”
Molloy will try to bring the city title back home with a blend of veterans and young stars on their roster. Jack Mangin is the team’s top returning midfielder and senior striker Jesse Rodrigues already scored twice in a 2-0 season opening win over St. Francis Prep last week. Senior Stephen Deely is back at goal. A lot is also expected from sophomore Thomas Mangin, Jack’s brother, and junior Steven Bongiovanni.
Stanners coach Andy Kostel was pleased overall with the way his team played against the Terriers once a defensive adjustment got it back on track after a slow start. He still expects more of this group going forward.
“I wasn’t happy in general with the offense,” he said. “We have to get more than that with the talent on this team.”
What Molloy did do was cash in on its best two chances, thanks to Rodrigues. He scored off a pass headed over by Thomas Mangin in the 29th minute. In the opening minute of the second half, he ran onto a ball lofted from midfield by Luke Geraci. Rodrigues took one touch and chipped it over charging St. Francis Prep keeper Justin Silva to make it 2-0.
“He never stopped,” Kostel said of the second score. “That’s what a good forward does. A forward waits for opportunities like that and goes in and takes that.”
The Stanners don’t plan on stopping until they claim the city title. Too many of the players know what it is like to come so close and fall short. That isn’t an option this time around.
“It’s a heartbreak losing there,” Rodrigues said. “We don’t want to feel that again.”