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Terriers bite back in rematch of semifinals with Iona

St. Francis's Christian Mosqueira (l.) and Kenny Redzematovic celebrate the only goal in the Terriers' 1-0 win over Iona Prep. Photo by Denis Gostev
TimesLedger Newspapers

If there was any question about how badly St. Francis Prep wanted revenge, it was answered during and after the victory.

The Terriers celebrated boisterously on Iona Prep’s home field, prompting Gaels goalkeeper Alex Kapp to exchange words with Terriers midfielder Chris Joseph as he was coming off the field. Joseph also traded barbs with striker Cesar Ceja after SFP’s 1-0 win over Iona Prep in CHSAA Class AA intersectional boys’ soccer Friday in New Rochelle.

The Terriers players were bent on vengeance after the Gaels sent them home in last year’s city semifinals.

“It just means so much, because we didn’t [really] lose to them [last year],” Joseph said. “We didn’t play our best soccer last year in the playoffs. We wanted revenge. We wanted to beat this team.”

Iona Coach Marcos Monteagudo, whose team won the championship last year, took some umbrage with what happened postgame.

“We knew they were gonna have a lot of the ball,” he said. “We didn’t know they were gonna celebrate like they won cities.”

Joseph, who is friends and academy teammates with Ceja and Kapp for FC Westchester, said the outburst just showed how much beating Iona (5-1-2) meant for St. Francis Prep (7-0-1), which joins Fordham Prep as the only two undefeated teams left in the league.

Christian Mosqueira had the game’s lone goal in the 32nd minute, when he put in a rebound after a diving save by Kapp, the Boston College-bound keeper. Jason Gonzalez crossed to Lawrence Nikaj, whose initial shot was blocked. Mosquiera was right in front of the goal and was opportunistic.

“I had to put it away,” he said. “I had my shot and I put it away. That’s all that matters.”

The story of the game was actually in the St. Francis Prep third. Star sweeper Christian Molano was omnipresent, frustrating Ceja, the Marist-bound forward, and freshman sensation Stephen Elias. Helping out Molano was Joey LoBosco, a sophomore appearing in just his second varsity game. He was called up last week when Molano needed five stitches in his head following a win over Xavier. LoBosco was a monster on 50-50 balls — Joseph called him “a rock in front of Molano.”

“I was really proud of him,” Molano said of LoBosco. “He’s young, but he really stepped it up. He really helped me out a lot.”

Iona played the final 16 minutes a man down when Michael Izzo was sent off with a straight red card. The Gaels also lost star defender Felix Abongo indefinitely after a play in the 51st minute. Monteagudo said Abongo heard a pop in his ankle and the fear is he could be lost for the season.

“That would be much, much bigger than three [losing] points,” Monteagudo said.

St. Francis Prep got the win without Franco Purificato on the sideline. The head coach has been away this week, spending time with his wife, Melanie, and their newborn daughter, Carolina. Purificato was relegated to watching a live feed of the game on msgvarsity.com and phoned acting Coach Nick Lombardo in the sixth minute.

“He was giving me instructions,” Lombardo said with a laugh. “I said, ‘this is not my first rodeo, my friend.’ This is his baby, too. He’s with his baby, but he cares a lot about these guys, too. He wants to see them succeed.”

Succeed they certainly did. Everyone involved seemed to believe these two teams would meet again in the postseason, with much more at stake. Until then, St. Francis Prep will relish the bragging rights.

“We played like we wanted to win and we showed it,” Joseph said. “We were very happy to get the ‘W’ here.”

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