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St. Francis Prep clears tough stretch, stays hot

St. Francis Prep players congratulate Kenny Redzematovic after a goal. Photo by Lauren Marsh
TimesLedger Newspapers

St. Francis Prep is peaking and at just the right time.

This stretch was billed as the toughest of the season for Terriers with games against Regis, Iona Prep, Fordham Prep and rival Archbishop Molloy in a span of two weeks. The contest with the Rams was postponed because of heavy rain and lightning, but that hasn’t stopped SFP from winning out and playing its best soccer of the year.

The Terriers capped it off with a 2-0 win over Molloy at Kissena Park in CHSAA Class AA intersectional boys’ soccer last Thursday. The Stanners were the lone blemish on SFP’s record with a 1-1 tie earlier this season.

“I told the guys we are at that level, now let’s stay there,” SFP Coach Franco Purificato said. “The scary thing is we can still play better.”

The coach believed early on his team fed too much into the Prep-Molloy rivalry. It left them tentative in the offensive third. They were unable to finish the chances they created and didn’t shoot enough in a scoreless first half.

“We really didn’t have that fire like we did against Iona and Regis,” SFP senior midfielder Chris Joseph said.

It was an effort play by Kenny Redzematovic, taking advantage of Molloy mistakes in the back, that changed all that. It started with Joseph flicking a ball up the left sideline to Jason Gonzalez, who collided into a heap with Molloy defenders Ryan Winters and Chris Mouzakitis. Redzematovic came charging across the field and beat charging Stanners keeper Ryan Vesey to the ball. Despite the tough angle he guided a shot across the goal mouth and into the far post in the 48th minute to give SFP (9-0-1), ranked No. 2 in the city by the new York Post, a 1-0 lead.

“I had to put a little spin on it,” Redzematovic said. “It managed to creep in.”

Joseph’s goal two minutes later did no such thing. The explosive senior dribbled past a defender at the top of the 18 and drilled a ball into the lower far corner to give SFP a 2-0 lead. Molly Coach Andy Kostel didn’t believe the first goal had any effect on the other or his team’s emotions.

“I think it was just the kid made a good play,” he said. “The first one was a mistake.”

Kostel thought his team had taken a step forward in a dramatic win over Fordham Prep earlier this week, but he considered this a step back. The ninth-ranked Stanners (4-3-4) never got going offensively, constantly kicking balls directly at Terriers keeper Steven Reid, who needed 85 stitches in his mouth after the first meeting after a mid-air collision with Nick Matusewicz.

Molloy’s best chance came after St. Francis Prep already led 2-0 when Denes Kostel, the coach’s son, had a shot across the front of the net hit off the goal post in the 54th minute.

“We were ready to play,” Vesey said. “We didn’t do it.”

On the other side, the Terriers continue to get it done. They beat Iona Prep 1-0, Regis 4-1, and now Molloy. Purificato didn’t want his players getting too caught up in the rivalry, but just keeping the momentum they have built going.

“One of the things I told them was don’t think of it as Molloy,” Purificato said. “Think of it as another team we got to beat.”

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