By Joseph Staszewski
Jessie Rodrigues heard Kyle Hoffman yelling his name over the boisterous crowd at Belson Stadium.
The Archbishop Molloy teammates noticed a seam in the St. Francis Prep defense and needed to act quickly.
“He saw an opening, said, “Go,’” Hoffman said. “I called for it, I tried to get wide and he played me the perfect ball.”
He didn’t waste it.
Seeing St. Francis Prep keeper Justin Silva charging forward, Hoffman slid and toed the ball into lower right hand corner in the 75th minute. The score gave Molloy a 1-0 victory over the Terriers in the CHSAA Class AA boys’ soccer semifinals Wednesday night.
“If I stood up he would have come out and got it,” Hoffman said. “He was playing a great game so I had to extend it.”
Molloy (11-0-5) advances to the championship game against Fordham Prep at 8 p.m. Saturday night back at Belson. The Stanners lost to the Rams in last year final, but won the regular season meeting 2-1 in the Bronx this year.
“No one likes to lose, it happened last year,” Rodrigues said. “This is it, my last year so we have to fight. This jersey is special that we wear. We have to represent and put our names now.”
Molloy didn’t want to extend the game any further against a St. Francis Prep team that has already won a game on penalty kicks this post season. The Terriers created a few dangerous chances in the final minute, but nothing that seriously threatened. Their best chance came in the 62nd minute when Molloy keeper Stephen Deely made a diving save shot by Sheldon May from 25 yards out. Stanners coach Andy Kostel praise the way SFP controlled the game’s first 30 minutes of the game before his team settled in.
“I think our defense played pretty well,” Kostel said.
So did St. Francis Prep down the stretch of the season. The Terriers (6-7-4) have been a regular in the late rounds of the playoffs in recent years, but nothing was certain with a young roster filled with juniors and sophomores.
“This is a whole new team,” SFP coach Franco Purificato said. “I have a freshman I goal and four sophomores. It’s a young team.”
Holy Cross falls to Fordham Prep: The Knights feel behind by two goals at the half and never recovered in a 4-0 loss to the defending champion Rams in the other semifinal. It is Holy Cross’ first appearance in the final four since 2007.
Alex Canicatti and Luke McNamarra each scored twice for Fordham Prep. Canicatti’s first goal can on a penalty kick in the 36th minute to put the Rams up 2-0 going into the half. Holy Cross gave itself a chance to get back into the game, but did not get a goal to show for its efforts.
A potential score by Antonio Pezzino was called off because of an offside call in the 49th minute and shortly after Joseph Brienza missed just wide on a shot from just inside the box. Andrew Laurenzano’s shot of a cross by Bordenca hit off the cross bar in the 71st minute with Fordham Prep up 3-0. Holy Cross coach Matt Tyburczy said his team missed its chance to get back into the game earlier.
“That goal could have changed the momentum of the game,” he said. “We had our chances and our opportunities.”
The third-year coach, while upset this group wasn’t able to finish the job, understand the year was a big step forward for the Knights (6-7-3). It sets a new standard moving forward.
“It’s my goal to get this Holy Cross program back to where it once was, where it is in the mix with the Fordham’s, with the Molloy’s and the St. Francis Prep’s of the world,” Tyburczy said.