By Laura Amato
It wasn’t a win—but it was a championship. The Holy Cross boys soccer team dueled to a 1-1 tie with Archbishop Molloy Oct. 20, but the Knights still managed to clinch the BQCHSAA regular season title by virtue of the league’s point system. It was the program’s first Brooklyn-Queens title since 2005.
“I know it’s weird, but we knew we only needed a tie,” said junior striker Michael De Canio. “We just came out and made it happened. We’ve wanted this moment since we started.”
The title is a huge step forward for Holy Cross, a team that won just a handful of games last season, and the Knights (10-3-1) know they’ve surprised a fair share of squads this fall. It’s a role the team is all too willing to play.
“I grew up with this school and this program and I won championships here, my assistant won championships here and we just wanted to bring that back to Cross,” said Knights coach Matt Tyburczy. “This is an enormous stepping stone for the program, the kids, everybody.”
The two teams battled for possession early on and while both Holy Cross and Molloy notched solid chances in the opening 40 minutes, neither squad could find the back of the net.
That, however, changed in the 41st minute.
De Canio barely heard the whistle blow on the second half before he was sprinting into the attacking third and notching the first goal of the day—giving Holy Cross a lead and, most importantly, an extra boost of confidence.
“We knew we had to start with some fire and that’s what we did,” De Canio said. “It was maybe even a minute and it was a beautiful ball. All I had to do was put it in.”
Molloy—which could have clinched the regular season title with a victory—refused to go down without a fight, however, and the Stanners knotted up the game in the 55th minute as Timoleon Deliyannis scored on a perfect cross just in front of the net.
The goal didn’t shake Holy Cross’ confidence, though, and the Knights defense locked in down the stretch, refusing to let up another one.
“I’ve been on my defense all year because I’m a defensive guy born and bred,” Tyburczy said. “There were games where I don’t know what they’re doing, but when they hunker down and focus, things like this happen. They built a wall back there.”
Goalkeeper Eric Rossi was the difference in the waning minutes of the game, notching save after save as Molloy continued to pepper shots on goal.
“I just kept trying to clear the ball every time it got down to me,” said Rossi, who finished with seven saves. “And get everyone upfield. I knew I couldn’t let another goal in and have us lose the game.”
De Canio had a final-minute chance to notch a second goal, but his shot hit just off the fingertips of Molloy goalie Owen Motherway. Still, the Knights are happy with the result of the matchup and, more importantly, with what’s next.
Holy Cross earned a first-round postseason bye with the title and, now, the Knights are ready for the next step—another championship and, they know, they’ll have to win to get there.
“I told these kids at the beginning of the year, three goals—Brooklyn/Queens, city and states,” Tyburczy said. “We’ve got one and now we’re working towards two.”