By Joseph Staszewski

Jesse Rodrigues never gave up on the play and was rewarded handsomely.

The Archbishop Molloy senior did exactly what is expected of a striker on both his goals. He turned on the extra gear to elude a defender on the first and jumped on a ball that bounced the Stanners’ way to give his team a 2-0 win over rival St. Francis Prep in CHSAA Class AA boys’ soccer Wednesday at Ally Pond Park. It was both teams’ season openers.

“Jessie is our senior captain forward,” defender Jake Mella said. “He is setting the tone for all of the forwards. He is scoring goals. He is doing what he has to do.”

Rodrigues’ first score came after St. Francis Prep controlled possession for much of the match’s first 20 minutes. The Molloy defense settled in and the midfield behind senior Jack Mangin picked up its play. Sophomore Thomas Mangin, Jack’s brother, headed the ball left to a streaking Rodrigues. He got a step ahead of his defender and quickly deposited the ball in the near corner to put Molloy up 1-0 in the 29th minute.

He struck again less than a minute into the second half. Luke Geraci booted the ball from midfield over the Terriers’ pressed-up defense. Rodrigues jumped on the ball, took one touch and kicked it past charging SFP freshman keeper Justin Silva to put his team up 2-0.

“He never stopped,” Molloy coach Andy 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 young Terriers, who failed to cash in on some early scoring chances, challenged the Molloy defense late. Daniel Donasciamento had a shot from 23 yards out go just wide left. A perfectly placed corner kick from Tristan Curmi went untouched across the box.

Terriers coach Franco Purifcato said the team paid for its two mistakes, ones he expects from a young team. Growing pains are expected. Learning from them is the key.

“We got a ways to go,” Purificto said. “It’s not about the regular season. It is about the playoffs. We are all in the playoffs. Nobody remembers who won the first game of the season.”

Molloy, on the other hand, is pleased to get its season off to a good start. The Stanners lost the city title game last season and plan on finishing the job this time around.

“It’s my senior year and I’m coming back hungry, hungry as you ever can be,” Rodrigues said. “We have to finish hard.”

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