By Joseph Staszewski
Monsignor McClancy is not working with the championship-ready roster that it had during its four-year reign atop the CHSAA Class A boy’s soccer league.
The Crusaders lost six starters from last year’s unbeaten club and while it has 11 seniors, many are inexperienced. That, along with the squad’s unfamiliarity with playing together, showed in a 3-0 home loss to league-power St. Joseph’s by the Sea last Friday.
“I believe we will get there,” McClancy coach Michael Sylvester said. However, he added that getting there will likely take “a little longer than usual.”
McClancy allowed two goals in the opening 13 minutes to Vikings forward Paul Lewis. The first came on a strike from near midfield to the lower right corner and the second on a breakaway after Lewis created a turnover.
While the Crusaders played from behind nearly the entire game, they controlled the pace of play and time of possession. McClancy created numerous set-piece opportunities, but they only seriously threatened to score a handful of times.
“We gave away two quick goals and we just kept going back at them,” senior defender Alex Ulic said. “We kept it positive and we kept the pressure on them.”
Senior midfielder Arsenije Matovic had two headers sail wide and Sea keeper John Chionchio stepped in front of his free kick from 19 yards out in the 30th minute. Sea added its third goal in the opening minutes of the second half when Anthony O’Donnell put in a deflection of a Joe Cardona corner kick to make it 3-0.
The lack of quality chances is what bothered McClancy the most after the contest. It wants more, and knows it needs to work on finishing the corner and free kicks it did earn. Chionchio did an excellent job punching away balls served in to the middle of the box.
“We didn’t created enough chances,” Ulic said. “We had a lot of set pieces we didn’t capitalize on, but I thought we dominated most of the possession.”
McClancy is not troubled by its 2-2 start. Its two defeats are at the hand of arguably the league’s top two squads in Sea and LaSalle, to which it lost 2-1. The Crusaders still have a solid veteran core with Matovic, Ulic and senior midfielder Paul Morales. New starters Jared Mifsud and Mario Giugliano will be looked at to make an impact right away.
The Crusaders expect to be in championship form when it begins to matter most.
“I think a couple more games and we will be back to where we were last year,” Ulic said.